Unions In The Blood

A possible challenge from a new labor union federation is among the first problems facing Randy Perreira, new AFL-CIO boss in Hawaii

Wednesday - January 25, 2006
By Alice Keesing
E-mail this story | Print this page | Archive | RSS | Del.icio.us

Perreira and wife Mary with daughters Laren, Christina and Katie
Perreira and wife Mary with daughters Laren, Christina and

Kahele and Perreira are both extremely civil over the issue. Nobody’s calling it a union war, but labor expert Bill Puette says the two groups will have to be careful.

Any raiding or infighting could have the destabilizing effect of turning employees off unions, says Puette, director of the University of Hawaii’s Center for Labor Education and Research.

Perreira acknowledges that getting everyone working together is a challenge.

“We’re a very interesting bunch to say the least,” he says. “The governance model run the gamut from what I can suggest to be nearly autocratic types of organizations to those like the HSTA; they have evolved into a more direct democracy in many respects. And as a result, what you have when you try to get a bunch of the union leadership together is a rather interesting mix of people with respect to how much authority they may have and their backgrounds.”

In addition, the old-style union leader who has worked his way up through the trades is increasingly being replaced by professionals with very different backgrounds and education.

“It does make for some great debate sometimes when issues are on the table,” Perreira says with a humorous note.

But Perreira isn’t getting stuck on internal wrangling. He’s also pushing the federation into new territory on community issues that he says will lead to more aggressive lobbying at the Legislature.

This session, the federation will add its voice to the tax surplus debate. Perreira favors investment in the community rather than a tax giveback.

“There are areas of great need,” he says. “The infrastructure we have is deteriorating quickly. Schools are prominently near the top of the list but at the same time I think we have to take a hard look at our harbors and our port facilities where, when it comes to the cargo capacity, we will be at capacity within a couple of years. So there is need for improvement and expansion.”

The federation is also moving to throw its weight behind one of the state’s biggest problems: the lack of affordable housing. It will start with lobbying the Legislature for resources, Perreira says, and other options are being discussed.

“For us it’s a very serious issue because our own members, the middle class, if this trend were to continue much longer, are going to get priced out of living in Hawaii,” he says. “And if you look to the future, our kids, what hope are we offering them?”

For things like this, Perreira is ready to take on the task of herding feral cats.

Page 2 of 2 pages for this story  <  1 2

E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS

Most Recent Comment(s):

Posting a comment on MidWeek.com requires a free registration.



Auto Login

Forgot Password

Sign Up for MidWeek newsletter Times Supermarket



Hawaii Luxury

Tiare Asia and Alex Bing
were spotted at the Sugar Ray's Bar Lounge