Hawaii unions rally against climate in DC 'that's turned against - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii unions rally against climate in DC 'that's turned against us'

(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)

Hundreds of union members from across the island came together Monday night to march against what they've called anti-labor proposals before Congress.

It was the first ever rally of its kind in Hawaii on International Workers Day.

Members from 21 public and private unions converged at the state Capitol building to support workers' rights.

"We've got each other to depend on because the politicians have abandoned us," one union leader told the crowd. "We've got a federal government that's turned against us."

Attendees said they were most concerned about the National Right to Work bill, which would make union dues voluntary across the country.

"If that does happen I predict a lot of people will drop out just because it sounds great. Why not keep the money in my pocket?" said Hawaii Government Employees Association member Kehau Makaila.

Some 20 percent of Hawaii's workers are represented by unions. That's the second highest rate in the country behind New York.

Union leaders say it's important to see how labor groups can work together in this changing political climate.

"People forget what life was like in America before we had unions. Workers didn't have rights. And we've been constantly eroding at those rights," said Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee.

Several attendees Monday said they came out because they wanted to stand together in solidarity with other union members.

"We're all busy.  But it's all worth it," said Lia Baltero, an HSTA member.

Added Makaila, "We've been responsible for creating and maintaining a strong middle class and we want to continue doing that."

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