In Oahu Division, Privatization, Refuse

Last year, members of the community were up in arms when the city sent letters to 181 condominium, faith-based, and non-profit organizations to inform them that front-end loader refuse services to their properties would be terminated. In addition to the issue of those affected now having to contract with a private hauler and adjust for unforeseen budget liabilities incurred as a result, it brought to light an even greater issue within our communities: there are a number of property owners and taxpayers currently paying for refuse services, but not benefitting from this basic service.

In their decision the Supreme Court ruled, “The City and County’s decision to terminate frontloader refuse collection services to the 181 properties violated constitutional merit principles and civil service laws and deprived the civil service workers in this case of the protections guaranteed in Article XVI, Section 1 and HRS Chapters 76 and 77.”

“We provide the basic and core services necessary to the functioning of our communities, and, we agree that it doesn’t make sense for taxpayers who qualify for the services to continue to pay a private refuse hauler for a benefit they should already be receiving,” said UPW State Director Dayton M. Nakanelua. “Going forward, we plan to work with the city to identify properties which may qualify for the services in the understanding there are a number of reasons why a property may be denied the service.”

Beyond that, the State Director talked about how important this decision was to our membership. Saying the fight defined Unionism, he commented directly on the size of the group of affected individuals. “Regardless of the size of the group affected,” he said, “We must continue to fight based on principal. Our principals are all we have, and when the law that protects workers is violated, similarly to when our contract is broken by the Employer, we must fight!”

Reminding us this is the principal concept the UPW was built upon, Nakanelua said, “Not fighting in a case where there is merit would violate that principal.”

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