Across the country and here in Hawaii, public worker unions are under attack. There continue to be ongoing efforts by the so-called "right-to-work" movement, The Center for Individual Rights, certain corporate giants and Republicans to bust public worker unions, lower wages and benefits, and weaken collective bargaining rights.
So what's at stake? And how does it affect you?
Message from HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira (August 2018)
It’s here. The fight to divide us and weaken our rights has come to Hawaii. The Supreme Court sided with corporate interests over workers in a 5-4 decision in the Janus v AFSCME case. We can expect increasingly aggressive tactics from those trying to bust public sector unions. You may hear that your union is trying to deceive you and all sorts of tactics get you to drop your union membership.
I urge you to research who the big money backers of the Janus case are. Look beyond the “right-to-work” talking points. Why would a coalition of rightwing organizations spend $80 million to get you, a public sector worker, to drop your union membership? What’s in it for them and how could weakened unions affect you, your job, your family, your pay, your benefits and retirement? Maybe not immediately, but in a slow erosion that could make it even harder to make ends meet now and for future generations of public workers. Ask your shop steward, ask your union staff, organize a Lunch + Learn at your worksite. We hope you get involved.
Despite this gloomy news, we can fight back. Our greatest weapon is our spirit of unity, of standing strong together. Of course we have our differences and internal disagreements, but I believe that collectively, our Hawaii values are the glue that holds us together. We want strong and safe communities, we want our co-workers and workplaces to succeed and our families to be healthy and happy. Unions are here to fight for better pay, safe working conditions, healthcare benefits, paid leave to spend time with your family and a guaranteed pension so you can retire in dignity ― not poverty.
This is an uncertain time, but I am confident that by standing together with our union brothers and sisters we will make sure future generations of public sector workers will still be able to enjoy the rights and benefits we have today.
As your union, we stand for fairness and equality. Labor’s very existence and purpose is to ensure all workers have opportunities to live a quality life. We must continue to join together and keep the labor movement strong – what happens to unions today will have a significant impact on future generations.