In State Director

May 8, 2020

Aloha Members of UPW, AFSCME Local 646:

As you know, last week the national union placed UPW under administratorship, and AFSCME President Lee Saunders appointed me as administrator.

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you and discuss my priorities as administrator.

But first, I want to recognize you, the hard-working members of UPW, and thank you for your service to our state – particularly during this public health and economic crisis. Our lives have been turned upside down, but through it all UPW members are answering the call: from the sanitation workers still out there picking up the trash and recycling, to the custodial workers keeping public buildings clean, to the parole officers, road workers and so much more.

I have been with AFSCME since 1982 when I was hired as a Union Agent with HGEA/AFSCME Local 152. In 1988 I was hired to serve as AFSCME Project Staff and in 1992 promoted to International Union Rep. Since 1998 I have served as the International Union Area Field Services Director for Hawaii.

My goal as your Administrator is to make UPW a union that works as hard as you do and is fully accountable to you, its members. To that end, my first priority is to restore fiscal transparency and integrity so that UPW members regain control and can trust how their union is being run. During this time the board will continue in an advisory role.

Second, there will be nothing short of a culture change at UPW. We will be a union where members’ needs and voices are heard. We will organize and grow for member power and a voice on the job.

I will be making many changes. To start, all UPW staff now have standardized email address, making it easier for members to reach them. And when you reach out to them, they will respond. All UPW staff email will be first initial and last name @upwhawaii.org (example: Jane Doe would be jdoe@upwhawaii.org). (Please note, my email will continue to be Lho@afscme.org and UPW Deputy Administrator Bronson Silva’s email is Bsilva@afscme.org.) Also, staff will be visible at your worksites as soon as social distancing restrictions allow it.

Third, I will be reviewing UPW’s communications operation and looking at more timely and effective ways to communicate with you. I will be redeveloping the website so that it is current and more interactive. And you will hear from me regularly about the administratorship, as well as our efforts to win state and local funding for public services and minimize furloughs and layoffs.

Fourth, I intend to engage UPW members in more organizing because the bigger we are, the stronger we are. I’ve hired former UPW Business Agent Chris Burnett to oversee the field services operations of UPW. His title is Statewide Director of Field Services. All UPW field staff will report to Chris. His email is Cburnett@upwhawaii.org. I’ve also hired Dwight Takamine as Chief of Staff. All other non-field staff will report to Dwight. Dwight is an attorney, former legislator and former Director of Labor and Industrial Relations. His email is Dtakamine@upwhawaii.org.

I will also make sure that UPW is part of national efforts, like AFSCME’s Fund the Frontlines Campaign. As you know, politicians throughout the state are looking for public workers to take pay cuts. This national campaign aims to prevent that. But it can only succeed if we are all doing our part.  

Lastly, I want to hear from you. What do you want from a new UPW? What are your top concerns as a public service worker in these challenging times? What would you like to see as UPW’s priorities? Please take this member survey to tell me what you think. Go to: afscme.org/upw-survey to take the survey

It is a new day for UPW. And your voice matters.

In solidarity,
Liz Ho
Administrator

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