Forgetting labor pains at Labor Day Unity Picnic - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Forgetting labor pains at Labor Day Unity Picnic

Michael Lozano Michael Lozano
Moke Laikona Moke Laikona
Watson Hoohuli Watson Hoohuli
Kristi Hoohuli Kristi Hoohuli

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - Hawaii union workers spent the day with their families in Waikiki on Monday at the Second Annual Labor Day Unity Picnic.

The free picnic allowed union workers to take a day off from Hawaii's stressful economy, which has left many either laid off or dealing with cuts in pay and/or hours.

They come from different unions, but their stories are nearly the same.

"Jobwise, there's not too much work out there. We can only do what we can, hanging in there," said Michael Lozano, a member of the Laborers' Union.

"They cut back some of our hours whereas before, we were making pretty good hours," said Moke Laikona, a United Public Workers (UPW) member.

At the Labor Day Unity Picnic, thousands of Hawaii's union workers gathered at Waikiki Shell with their families. Everything was free. On this day, members say they can forget for at least one afternoon the economic blows the recession has dealt.

"With the support of our family, we're able to get through these hard times," said Watson Hoohuli, a member of the Plumber-Fitters Union.

"It's really just to support the union and what they do for us. They've been very helpful medical wise, benefits," said Hoohuli's wife, Kristi, who is pregnant with their third child.

Among the local unions who attended were UPW and the Hawaii State Teachers Association. Both are in a tug-of-war with the state in the furlough-versus-layoffs fight with Governor Linda Lingle. Workers say what's difficult, is being in limbo as contract talks continue.

"All of these unknown questions are difficult for us to deal with but getting together here with all the other unions shows us that we're not alone and that together we can get through this," said Melanie Mundon, a teacher.

Organizers say the labor day unity picnic attracted about 5,000 to 6,000 people.

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