HONOLULU, HI – Dec. 15, 2020 – In response to recent news of the COVID-19 outbreak at Halawa Correctional Facility and our ensuing follow-up with both our member employees at the facility and Hawaii State Department of Public Safety officials, United Public Workers / AFSCME Local 646 would like to issue the following statement.
United Public Workers (UPW) represents over 300 staff members at Halawa Correctional Facility, and over 1,500 at correctional facilities statewide. It was brought to our attention that the staff at Halawa Correctional Facility, including correction officers, food service workers, maintenance staff and health care professionals, are facing hazardous working conditions due to lockdowns and quarantines caused by the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Work shifts have been vastly understaffed, putting the staff members at greater risk in dealing with an already overcrowded inmate population. This situation is unacceptable to us. We acknowledge that the Department of Public Safety has taken steps to mitigate the outbreak and has provided sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff. But, there is definitely more that needs to be done.
UPW understands that the Department of Public Safety is in a period of transition. However, our top priority is the health and safety of our members at Halawa Correctional Facility and other correctional facilities statewide, especially in the face of this COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to address our members’ concerns with new director Max Otani and his staff to resolve these issues. We need Director Otani to hit the ground running to address the many safety issues our corrections members are facing right now.
About United Public Workers
Founded in 1944, United Public Workers / AFSCME Local 646 represents over 13,000 working women and men across Hawaii, in both the public and private sectors, including over 1,500 employees at correctional facilities across the State of Hawaii. To learn more about UPW, visit upwhawaii.org.