HBLSF Alumni

//HBLSF Alumni
HBLSF Alumni 2017-08-22T15:42:22+00:00




University of Hawai`i, Manoa

“What was the most important accomplishment of ILWU Local 142 in Hawaii?”

Upon learning the extensive and deeply rich history of ILWU Local 142, the most significant accomplishment in my eyes is truly the multitude of ways in which the union came to shape labor rights and conditions for all citizens of Hawaii, not merely those who were paying members. One such event in ILWU Local 142 history that remains an important accomplishment to this day, is the May 1, 1949 Dock Strike, which lasted a total of 177 days in efforts to officially challenge the longstanding colonial wages here in Hawaii. These colonial wages forced Hawaii longshore workers into receiving disproportionately lower pay than longshore workers of the same time period located along the West Coast of the United States. ILWU Local 142 members set forth to close this wage gap by seeking a pay increase from $1.40/hour, to match the $1.82/hour which was being paid to workers of the same trade in the West Coast region.


University of Hawai`i, Manoa

“What was the most important accomplishment of ILWU Local 142 in Hawaii?”

Learning about the ILWU Local 142 was very interesting and served a huge purpose for the workers of Hawaii. Before ILWU 142, the Territory of Hawaii consisted of five big companies known as the “Big Five.” These companies took majority of the land and job systems in Hawaii. Ruining the economy in Hawaii, the “Big Five” would have its workers live in company housing and work the plantations. Workers would face long, harsh hours as well as very low wages and poor working conditions. This group dominated the territorial government of Hawaii and its economic, political, and cultural life. Though there were many protests by the workers, employers had no sympathy and allowed this to continue.

Finally, ILWU 142 was created which gave workers of Hawaii hope for a better future.The union gave workers an opportunity to earn better wages, work reasonable hours, and get benefits that will help them in life.IWLU 142 also gave workers a safer environment to work inwhere they would not have to worry about unsanitary conditions or dangerous environments while working. It provided employers who actually cared for their employees and their families.Employees of the union were finally able to work for jobs that would keep them economically stable and allow them to provide for they families.



University of Hawai`i, Manoa

“The ILWU Local 142 Leading Hawaii’s Working Future”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, better known as ILWU Local 142, was a union formed to protect the rights and improve the working conditions of laborers in Hawaii. Today, the ILWU Local 142 includes approximately 18,000 workers from numerous industries such as longshore, general trades, tourism, and agriculture. The ILWU Local 142 has had a massive impact on the lives of many in Hawaii, however, the most important accomplishment of all, would be the creation of the union itself.

Before the establishment of labor unions such as the ILWU Local 142, there were five major companies monopolizing the sugar industry known as “The Big Five”. These sugar companies brought laborers from various countries and ethnicities to work for them in promise of better living conditions. The sugar industry in Hawaii was a significant source of income for the island and all of its residents. Due to the massive size and power of these companies, they were able to greatly influence the decision of politicians, they were able to greatly influence the decision of politicians and movement of the government. Among political influence, were laws and bills created to limit the rights of workers and ability to refute the conditions set forth by their employers.


University of Hawai`i, Manoa

“Harriet Bouslog Labor Scholarship Fund”

The paramount accomplishment of ILWU Local 142 in Hawai’i was that they were relentless in their pursuit of providing justice to hard-working and humble people like my grandfather. Many of these plantation workers were immigrants with incredible work ethic and admirable dreams, striving to provide for their families. Additionally, many of them had very little education and had no means of advocating for themselves. Without the organization and empowerment of ILWU Local 142, these employees could have easily been exploited in plantations for the entirety of their careers.

At the time of my grandfather’s employment, Hawaii’s economy was dominated by just a handful of landholding companies. The plantation system implemented by these companies forced workers, like my grandfather, to live in undesirable company housing and work the plantations for meager wages doing backbreaking physical labor.



HBLSF WINNER XANDRIA AKAUKamehameha Schools Keaau Campus
Hawai’i Community College

“An Injury To One Is An Injury To All”

ILWU 142 is in place essentially to help employees, and always be there for them when they need support. In my opinion, the most important accomplishment of the ILWU 142 in Hawaii is that by exemplifying solidarity by working towards a benefit all those involved.

I believe that unions help us because they focus on the best interest and the protection of the workers, which is really important. It is essential for workers to be protected with job security because most working adults have families, and they don’t want to have to feel uneasy about losing their job or getting a pay cut for no justified reason.


HBLSF WINNER KAPENA AVEIROKamehameha Schools Keaau Campus
University of Hawai’i, Hilo

“To Start A New Beginning”

Jack Hall was the start of change of Hawaii’s work force. And because of his actions it still impacts people every day. He left a great legacy of the ILWU 142, and I am sure it will still positively affect many in the future. ILWU created the opportunity for a sense of dignity and pride in blue collar, local agriculture, plantation workers, warehouse workers, and dock workers. This is important to all of us in the state of Hawaii because we are a state with a majority of blue collar workers, dock workers, warehouse workers and those who work in the tourist industry, which took place of most plantation and agriculture work. The workers share the benefit to have the opportunity to have a say at the bargaining table when unions meet to discuss different job contracts. It allows workers to care and provide for their families in the rough economical times of today and also thrive as individuals. It’s been a great experience learning about how the ILWU 142 has such a major impact on Hawaii.


University of Hawai’i, Hilo

“ILWU 142: A Lasting Legacy”

“At the core, labor unions are working men and women, unified as one force. Despite any personal differences that may exist between us, we have bonded together to protect and improve the lives of workers. We rise up together for the greater good. We defend one another like family” – Sue Carney. Labor unions are something that thousands of people are involved in throughout our nation. Although many recognize their importance, they may not realize that unions began forming years ago. Employees are directly impacted by the union because the union controls such things as working conditions and health concerns. But the impact doesn’t stop there. The union also affects the lives of the families of their employees. Labor unions are a part of everyone’s lives and they impact us daily.

ILWU Local 142 is a labor union that is prominent not only in my life, but in the lives of countless others. It all began years ago on the sugar cane fields here in Hawaii. Immigrants from the Philippines, Japan, China, and Portugal were called to the Hawaiian Islands with promises of prosperity and happiness. That is, however, not what they received when they arrived here. Plantation camps were often segregated based on race. It was this very system that allowed these workers to be paid unfair wages for intense labor. It also went even further with some races getting paid more than others. This often caused tension and unhappiness among employees. This is the point in history where something wonderful began to happen. The union, ILWU Local 142, began to be formed.


HBLSF WINNER TIARA-LEE SHIBUYAKamehameha Schools Keaau Campus
University of Hawai’i, Hilo

“What was the Most Important Accomplishment of ILWU Local 142 in Hawai’i?”

“Brothers and Sister” is what Harriet Bouslog said as she approaches the plantation farmers and as a lawyer spoke on their behalf. Surprisingly seven decades later there are over a million employees who get to strive at their jobs with rights because of Harriet Bouslog. When she first landed on Hawai’i she made all the right steps and turns to become and do to what was just in her mind. I find this woman very inspiring and a great role model to lawyers, unions workers, and just an ordinary person. I would have to say the biggest turning point would be in July 1959 when Harriet Bouslog said “The bringing of economic democracy to Hawai’i through the ILWU and its contributions toward racial equality, as well as toward destroying the old feudal grip on the Islands, was without doubt, an important factor in the achievement of Statehood.” This marked the start for everyone to feel equal in many ways and for politics and segregation not to matter.

Similarly to Harriet I found my interview to be very inspiring and heartfelt. When I interviewed Bradley Llanes it was a little difficult to get a perspective from his eyes. He came from a childhood where “the necessities were not always available”. My background growing up was my father and mother working two jobs each to support four children and always encouraging us to go to the best schools and earn the best knowledge. Once I heard those words I got a picture in my minds of hungry nights and no showers or hardly any clean clothes. I felt deep sadness but it also brought me to appreciate what I have.


University of Hawai’i, Manoa

“What was the Most Important Accomplishment of ILWU Local 142 in Hawai’i?”

It’s arduous for me to narrow it down to just a single important accomplishment that the ILWU Local 142 has and continues to contribute to its many members over the years. Although if I have to, I would say that the most considerable achievement the ILWU Local 142 has cultivated is promote employee rights and bestow benefits to the working people of Hawaii.

“We really appreciate what the union did for us…”, my grandpa, Joseph R. Faisca, Sr. told me, as his mind traveled back in time to his youth and the days of living and working on the sugar plantation. For over 100 years, Hawaii’s workers suffered and sacrificed under the terrible repression and tyranny of Hawaii’s most powerful employers and government officials. “Before the union, we were working for peanuts,” my grandpa stated with a look of disdain in his eyes. When these large landholding companies took over in the early 1800’s, they destroyed the traditional economy and set up a plantation system that forced most workers to live in company housing and work the plantations for miserable wages, under brutal working conditions. A portion of the 1919 Japanese Federation appeal request perfectly depicts an example of this injustice.




University of Hawai`i, West Oahu

“Giving Choices, the Most Important Contribution Today”


HBLSF WINNER JONATHAN HONDAKamehameha High School Kapalama
University of Hawai’i, Manoa

“Harriet Bouslog Scholarship Essay”


University of Hawai’i, Manoa

“Sweet Victory: Why the 1946 Sugar Strike is the Most Important Accomplishment of ILWU Local 142”



Kapiolani Community College

“The Most Important Accomplishment of ILWU Local 142 in Hawai’i”


University of Hawai’i, Manoa

“`A`ohe hana nui ke alu `ia. No Task is Too Big When Done Together by All”


University of Hawai’i, Manoa

“The Most Important Accomplishment of ILWU Local 142 Hawai’i”


University of Hawai’i, Manoa

“The Biggest Accomplishment”




Honolulu Community College

“ILWU Local 142 Past, Present, and Future”

My interview with my stepdad, Ron Oleyer has been an eye opening and very educational experience. I have learned not only about the history of the ILWU local 142, but also the importance and impact the union has on its members, as well as the members’ families and communities.

I have learned many things about the history of the ILWU local 142. One thing I have learned is that a former sailor named Jack Hall, helped to organize longshore and pineapple workers on Kauai. He started a newsletter called, “The Voice of the ILWU.” Local 142 was formed after four local unions merged and joined forever. The workers of the various labor unions knew that they needed greater unity in order to bargain with employers. By doing so, the union became stronger throughout the islands economically and gained political cooperation. The consolidation of Local 142 became solid and provided more quality service for all ILWU Local 142 members. I also learned about the importance of the 1949 Dock Strike. The strike lasted for 171 days. The Hawaii longshore workers knew that they deserved the same wages as their counterparts on the west coast. The unity of the union and its members stood strong and ultimately prevailed.


University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Union Working to Live Right”

ILWU Local 142 has very much been an alien term to me, but I have learned that without the ILWU Local 142, many workers would suffer great losses. Hawai’i and its workers have been greatly affected by the job security and benefits that it provides to its members. They negotiate to create a fairer work environment and subsequently a fairer lifestyle because of it. This includes pay increases and safety committees that were not considered a concern by the owners of big companies in times before the union offered its workers a voice.

In a time where the Big Five were the only “bigs” in control of the economic activity in the Hawaiian Islands, reflection upon the year 1935 produces a serious lack of organization of unions. The modicum of control the workers were allowed in a network of such tight-leashed wealthy families was simply not enough for the workers to gain any ground. According to a 1936 study by Edna Clark Wentworth and Frederick Simplich Jr., more than half of the 101 Filipino families on sugar plantations surveyed concluded their year with an average deficit of 57%, which comes to be about $85. Their wages consisted of 27 cents per hour and very rarely, if ever, increased. At that rate, big families in Hawai’i could barely afford to put food on their table. The owners took it upon themselves to prevent attempts at improving worker’s wages and miserable living conditions by separating nationalities and creating a dependency on the plantation’s restricted resources. For this reason, the eventual formation of the ILWU Local 142 and union of nationalities was both necessary and beneficial for employees in order to properly bargain with employers and aid in creating the democratic society that we have today.


University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Talking Story”

I am studying a lot of history at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where I am majoring in American studies. My dad often picks me up from school and we drive home together in heavy traffic. This is often “talk story” times for us. When I was taking a class in American Studies 310 about Japanese Americans, I taped recorded my lectures, because some of the lectures were really funny. My professor often talked about himself and included his family in his lectures. My dad and I would listen to the lectures together on the drive home and my dad would laugh and laugh. Then, he would tell me his own stories. I learned about the early ILWU history from this class, because the Japanese immigration experience is about coming to Hawaii as contract laborers for the sugar plantations and is closely linked with the labor movement.

In many ways, the story of social change in Hawaii, is the story of the labor movement and the ILWU members whose struggles made a difference in bringing about a more socially just and a more egalitarian society. My dad is very comfortable sharing his stories with me, but it was almost mission impossible to get my dad in front of the camera for a video interview. Still, it was a challenge for both of us to complete this project together and so we did. What I think I learned the most from this oral history interview project is that my dad has a strong sense of values and I think he succeeded in passing on his values to me.



University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Brotherhood of a Union”

In Hawaii the land can only be cultivated to grow certain things because of our climate, and since our soil and temperate climate are perfect for sugar, it grew well. My family was just a few people who were a part of it. Although “the big five”, the missionary families that were at the top of the plantation triangle of power, had complete control over their immigrant workers, they continued to work because that’s what they came here to do. This uneven distribution of power did not hold up for long because of strikes and conflicts. What the Unions in the near future provided was security and a chance at fairness in the workplace for the workers, and management. Not everyone can be the boss but the workers and the bosses need to get along, need to be able to communicate and work together to accomplish what needs to be done.

Unions made a big impact on the people in Hawaii and continue to do so today. Without unions I probably would not have a house to go home to, or much food on the table to eat, clothes to wear or a outstanding school to attend. I know this is true for other people too because it happens to everyone. Incidents happen and complications no one can anticipate or plan for accordingly but the Unions provide security and a chance to those in unfortunate circumstances. For the future Unions need to continue to serve the workers because without workers, management has no one to manage. I think the Unions we have today do an excellent job of keeping the workers best interests the priority which helps maintain a professional and fair relationship between management and the workers.


University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU Local 142 Impact”

An “Injury for One is an Injury for All.” That motto was created by the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU). Forming in 1952, this union allowed more equality for ILWU Local 142 members while giving them more opportunities and rights facing the government and taking a stand within the community of Hawaii. The union continuously grows by uniting various companies and businesses like Sack N Save, Foodland, and the Hawaiian Commercial Sugar Cane Company, changing people’s lifestyles for the better. I have recently learned from my mother the benefits of being an ILWU member, and broadened my knowledge of the past connections made by the community as well as the major roles they should serve for Hawaii’s youth.

My mother, Mageline Feliciano,  is currently working at Sack N Save, Wailuku as a head cashier. As an ILWU Local 142 member, she expresses her confidence and pride of being a part of the Union. Through sixteen years of working with the Sack N Save company, one of the major benefits was getting a loan to help provide for their first home as a source of their income through the help of the union. This loan allowed my parents to receive their own place and continue to enlarge the property within the next ten years. Another component I learned from her is job protection. “In five minutes, they are there already,” my mother informed. For example, in 2011, she filed for worker’s compensation because she injured her right shoulder and by contacting one of the ILWU representatives, the process was taken quickly in action. Through Teddy Espeleta, a past representative, she won her case.


Maui College


From the beginning of time HC&S has been a wonderful sugarcane company on the island of Maui. I had learned many things from my dad during the interview. I learned alot about the history, job opportunities and agriculture. But most importantly I learned about education becoming the key to life.

For the people of Maui, jobs are provided for a better future. According to my dad, “our company provides many job opportunities such as electricians, mechanics, truck drivers, machine operator and more. This company has given me a great opportunity to improve and build myself in this company and make good progress in my knowledge. I was able to start off as a truck driver and then I started washing trucks. After a couple years, they were able to help provide me schooling and I was able to become a I.C.E mechanic.” During those years I was with my dad every step through his transformation. I can see that HC&S offers their employees great care, challenges and rewarding careers on the island of Maui. They also offer a training and trades program to help build their employees talent and knowledge and to be able to successfully grow in the business and their career.


University of Hawaii, Hilo

“A Rippling Effect”

“An injury to one is an injury to all” is the motto embraced by the 18,000 and rising members in the ILWU Local 142, who are striving to bridge the equality gap between the workers and the various businesses.  With the help of the ILWU Local 142, members and their families are able to live more comfortably through wages equal to the cost of living and more benefits for the individual’s health. The ILWU also assist workers in various court cases so they may earn better pension plans or workers compensation. Early individuals such as Jack Wayne Hall paved the way to the recent ILWU, which allowed locals to form at various plantation companies, longshore operations, and factories. To strengthen the impact of their bargaining abilities, the four territory-wide locals joined together to form the ILWU Local 142 which will provide a stronger bond and voice for the members.

During the interview with Mr. Rogelio Tacdol, I learned that there are many benefits that has been and will be achieved through the unity of the ILWU Local 142.  Many of these small feats had a positive effect on everyone in the community. The lifestyles of many were poor and the wages they received were not enough to balance out the cost of living.  By raising the wages for employees, they were able to live more comfortably with the new income coming in. A problem that affected many was that the employers of  big plantation companies gave employees jobs that were not specific to their job abilities; however, this was solved through the ILWU’s dedication to helping workers.  Workers were now able to apply for different positions that they felt they could work which made them more comfortable at their jobs. Mr. Tacdol mentioned that by helping a single employee, it created a rippling effect to those in the community, and it helped benefit the economy. With a healthy economy, the economic activities thrive and the income for an individual increases.



Continuing Masters in Education at University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Where People Don’t Fear Each Other”

My name is Greg Gauthier. I came to Hawaii from Southern California in 1997 at twenty-five years of age, with little more than the hope for a new perspective in my life. It was well known to me that Hawaii had a level of tolerance for a multiplicity of cultures that other areas of the country lacked. This dynamic intrigued me even more than the beautiful weather. But the weather definitely sealed the deal!

I began working at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Unit 1503 in October of 1997 as a bartender. Though only a casual that first year, I saw wages and benefits that eclipsed every other job I had previous to that. When I learned that the unit was Unionized, my heart was overjoyed. You see, as a child, I had a couple of friends that had parents that were active in their Unions. These children always had the best medical care, best food in the refrigerator, clean school clothes, and decent homes. I never wanted to leave their houses when I spent the night. I had also heard many stories at their dinner table of people waiting in long lines to get jobs with their parents Unionized companies. The association was clear, Union jobs were hard to come by, but if you had one, your family had a stronger opportunity to forge a decent life. Now in Hawaii, I too had a Union job! Things were going to get better for me.



University of Hawaii, Hilo

“Jesus Guirao and the ILWU 142 Union”

From the time I was young, my grandfather, Jesus Guirao, has been a major impact in my life. Growing up, he would often tell me, “Education is the one thing that will get you somewhere in life. Cherish it and strive to your dreams. Nothing is impossible.” My grandfather was right. I have the capability to pursue anything through all the hard work it takes me to achieve my dreams and goals. However, my grandfather worked very hard in his life to get where he is today.

It all started when he first immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines of 1970. Throughout his time spent in Hawaii, he experienced numerous leadership roles and attained skills which allowed him to assist other members and their families during times of distress such as strikes and unemployment. Because of the organization, he was also able to receive a great education and training as well. In 1970 to 1986, my grandfather was first introduced to the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) when he was appointed as the Second Vice Chair of the Kekaha Sugar Plantation Unit and takes part in the Unit Negotiation Sugar Contract. Every two years since, he was nominated as a delegate and attended Local and International Conventions. Eventually my grandfather was earned a position as the Business Agent for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) of Lihue, Kauai, where he dealt with business association for the organization and supported political campaigns where he continued to stay with the Union until he retired of December 2003. My grandfather endured many hardships in his past that he regrets but one thing that he doesn’t regret was becoming a member of the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU). The International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) is like his second family. He is exceedingly grateful of the organization because of its benefits and support.




no-photo-availableMid-Pacific Institute
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU Continues to Help”

The ILWU help my grandfather with a great deal of things such as providing him with free water, electricity, and rent and increasing the quality of his pay, medical benefits, and pension plan. Before the ILWU was created, the workers on the plantation were mistreated and the plantation owners were cruel to the workers. The owners would make the Filipinos work long days, but only pay them the bare minimum, not nearly enough to support a family. Still today the ILWU impacts the life of my grandparents and many other plantation workers and continues to help.

Through the interview with my grandfather and grandmother, I learned that the Union helped their generation because they were there to protect the workers from the plantation owners. As time went on, there were still many strikes and after each strike, the benefits would change and get better with the ILUW to back their strikes. The ILWU helped our family through raises in pay, improvement with our medical benefits, the housing, and their pension plan. For the pension plan, the plantation had to contribute to it and the ILWU would make sure they would pay for it. The ILWU started off with free medical, but as things got more expensive, they decided to charge a small fee each year to pay for the medical plan..


no-photo-availableMid-Pacific Institute
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Where People Don’t Fear Each Other”

When I began to research the history of the ILWU it opened a new perspective for me to view our home with. I found that the ILWU helped empower the people of Hawaii to improve their lives. Through this interview I gained a new understanding of the working conditions that people had to deal with. I am aware that ethnic differences have been used to weaken ties amongst people. Despite this I didn’t realize how this affected life for Hawaii’s workers both socially and domestically.

From my understanding, I found that workers did have benefits. They were provided with housing, firewood, and some food. However, their medical benefits were terrible and didn’t
cover them very well. Basically, workers were cared for on a basic level but treated if they were dispensable. Although it was true that employers could easily hire new employees to replace old ones; it is dreadful that as human beings they were not treated as equals. I appreciate that the union made medical a priority for employees so they can be properly cared for if they fall ill. My grandpa was lucky that he was valuable to his employer because he was provided training to do his job. Training is a great benefit because it provided him with more skills, which increased his worth as an employee.


Alana LaheneyMid-Pacific Institute
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Impacts of the ILWU”

Interviewing my father about his knowledge and experiences in the ILWU has been very educational and interesting. I was not aware of how important unions are in today’s world. It was very interesting to see how many people are involved in organizing and running the ILWU and how hard they fight to maintain a decent standard of living. Some of the benefits my family enjoys today because of the union include great wages and generous fringe benefits including a generous pension, vacation and sick time, medical and dental benefits. I think many people assume that the companies provide these benefits but it is actually through the hard work of the ILWU that these things have been earned.

Some of the benefits that have been earned include a “livable wage”, earning enough to live a comfortable lifestyle. Corporations are constantly trying to maximize their profits by paying as little as possible in wages, outsourcing jobs to third world countries where wages are low, and by sometimes even sacrificing worker safety in order to maximize productivity. My dad talked about Walmart, where the average worker makes about $9. per hour but the CEO makes almost $19 million annually. Unions provide a balance so there is not this type of disparity. The employees deserve their fair share also. Companies will pay as little as possible, even if it means that their employees earn less than the federal poverty level.


no-photo-availableMid-Pacific Institute
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU and its Impact on My Family”

Interviewing my grandfather and grandmother was a very valuable experience because I learned a little bit about the history of our family and the trials that they went through. I also learned the role that ILWU played in helping provide for my family when they needed it most. Honestly, if the ILWU did not assist my family, the future generations, such as my father and myself may not be here, or our life and experiences may have been totally different. My family, past and present, has been benefitted from the charitable acts of the ILWU in many ways. The ILWU worked very hard and fought for my family to improve conditions, such as increased wages, medical and retirement benefits, and a better work environment.

The ILWU is a worker’s union that was established in 1933. The purpose of the Union is to represent the workers in the plantations to provide them with a better opportunity in wages, working conditions, medical plans, retirement plans, etc. The union was built, by workers to be “democratic, militant and dedicated to the idea that solidarity with other workers and other unions is the key to achieving economic security and a peaceful world” (ILWU.org). Like many unions, there were worker strikes in 1916, 1919, and 1921 and was disbanded because of the importation of African Americans as the source of labor to be diverted to, thus forcing the strike to disband. The Union learned from these strikes when it was reformed in 1933. The history of the Union is very important because without it, many families that were dependent on them, including mine, may have seen different results or circumstances. Also, the younger generation may not know the true impact that the ILWU had on families since the 1900’s unless they know the history and the extent to which the Union fought for it’s members.



no-photo-availableLos Osos High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Brotherhood of a Union”

My name is Christian Keliipio, great-grandson to Bernard Andrade. Bernard was an ILWU member from July 27, 1946 to his retiring date of February 1, 1994. He was a member of the union for over 47 years. My great-grandfather started his journey at Castle and Cooke where he worked as a Winchman. This job entailed operating a winch to move large cargo off of ships.
He worked this job for 6 years until he received his first promotion and became an Alternate Crane Operator. This job involved operating a crane to move cargo. He would switch off 5 hour shifts with a partner, each operating the crane and on the floor at separate times. He rapidly received his next promotion to a Gang Formant, where he would work several years until he was promoted to his final job, crane operator. He worked as a crane operator until he retired from the company in 1994. Bernard transferred from Castle and Cooke to Mccabe, Hamilton, and Remmy to Matson; which was the company that he retired from.

Through research, the ILWU strike of 1949 had such a profound impact on the island of Hawaii. It forever changed the workforce, created fair wages and set the standard for which many employers operate today. The ILWU changed economic conditions and laid the foundation for employers to build on. The success of the ILWU strike provided universal benefits for other industries to mimic. When other industries saw the beneficial outcomes that resulted from the brotherhood of a union, they were quick to adopt those tactics. The ILWU served as the big brother to soon to be developed unions.


Justin KlapardaCrespi Carmelite High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Ships, Chicken Fights, and Children: The Life of Restitute “Dingo” Ramos Paguirigan”

When the average boy is in third grade, he plays basketball with his friends on the schoolyard, learns how to write in cursive, goes on fun class trips, and so much more. When Restitute Ramos Paguirigan finished the third grade in 1938, he had to completely drop his studies and fun on the schoolyard to work in the rice paddies that were owned by his family in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. As he grew into a young man, he eventually found his way to Hawaii, where he worked both in the sugar cane fields on the Big Island and on the docks of Honolulu harbor as a stevedore. He was able to bring his wife and child from the Philippines, support five more children thereafter, send them all to college, and eventually do the same for his grandchildren standing strong, holding his head high and smiling through many trials and tribulations. Although he is now deceased, Restitute “Dingo” Ramos Paguirigan is an exemplary man because he was able work tirelessly, starting from nothing, to providing everything for his wife, children, and eventually his grandchildren. He truly lived out the American dream.

The first way in which he lived out the American dream occurred when he was a young boy. As the only boy in a family with three sisters, Paguirigan supported them by working in the rice fields and helping with much of the other chores around the house. Paguirigan and his family lived in a small, modest house with a small kitchen and two rooms, one of which was for his parents and the other for him and his three sisters. Little did he know, that this was the beginning of the makings of a man who had a devotion and a drive like no other to give back to and support his family’s needs over his own. Every day for the next thirteen years after he dropped out of school, Paguirigan would spend countless hours in the rice fields, selling his family’s rice crops to the local open market, and then come home to his family and help his parents care for his sisters. At about this time, Paguirigan and his future wife, Linda Saoit, had their first exchange. She remembers, “Restituto and I were neighbors, and I was playing with my family’s pigs and I remember him laughing at me because I was a little girl and I was all dirty.”



Santos Louise VivianKa’u High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“All For One, One For All”

Work is life. To earn a living is a must since it is one of the requirements to enjoy the livingness of life. Therefore, to have a job with a good and safe working conditions is many a worker’s dream.

With the interview I have conducted, I learned from my mom the merits of being a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. I learned from her that unionism concerns workers of all races and beliefs who are cohesive with only one single purpose: to achieve a better life for themselves and for their families. Tracing back the history of the ILWU, the records of its origins and traditions is about workers who built a union that is democratic, militant, and dedicated to the idea that solidarity with other workers and other unions is the key to achieve economic security and a peaceful world.

As to the impact of the ILWU on the history of Hawaii and its people, ILWU Local 142, with its brave men and women changed Hawaii from near-feudal conditions to the vibrant multi-ethnic and multicultural society. Through active unionism, the workers of Hawaii achieved a better life through collective organization. ILWU Local 142 is instrumental in joining together working people of Hawaii to work for mutual benefit and to promote fairness and justice on the job. It gave the working people of Hawaii the collective power to improve the living standards of their families and build a more democratic and equitable society.



no-photo-availableKauai High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Members Stick Together”

I interviewed my grandfather (known to me as Papa), Robert G. Girald, a retired vice-president of the ILWU Local 142. After high school my grandfather attended Kauai Technical School to become a machinist. He was hired by Grove Farm Plantation Company in 1963 where he first became affiliated with the union and shortly thereafter shop steward. He later moved to Lihue Plantation Company in 1970 and was later elected shop steward. In 1973-74 he served on the statewide sugar negotiation committee when they had a 5 week strike. In 1976 he was appointed temporary business agent. He was elected business agent in 1978 and re-elected to serve for approximately 13 years. He then was elected Kauai Division Director for approximately 5 years, and was then appointed to serve as local vice-president when the sitting vice-president, Fred Paulino, passed away. He was then elected to three 3 year terms as vice-president until he retired on January 1, 2004.

There were quite a lot of my family members that were associated with the ILWU, my great-grandfathers, my great-grandmother, and several of my uncles were members and stewards. My great-grandmother, Ramona, was a steward for the Kauai Surf Hotel.

The 1934 longshore strike gave the average workers the opportunity to unite and fight. It sparked the creation of new unions in other industries. The impact that the ILWU had on Hawaii was that it brought its members together as brothers and sisters. Their motto “An Injury to one is An Injury to ALL” made me understand that as union brothers and sisters, the members all stick together and watch each other’s back. The sugar strike in 1946 and the dock strike in 1949 brought union members even closer together as they stood shoulder to shoulder picketing. The union passed out rice and other food items to members which I recently found out that my great-grandfather, John Pimental (Johnny Fat), was a big part of.




HBLSF Winner Chad NacapuyWaialua High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Hilo Massacre — Hawaii’s Bloody Monday”

In order to understand how much of a risk it was for the Hilo workers to protest that August day, you must first understand the struggles and hardships the workers had to go through to achieve their Union hold.

Those who demonstrated that day not only fought for their brother unionist but for every American’s right to demonstrate peacefully. Hawaii is different because of them.

They fought for us so we could work 40 hours a week, so we could have fair treatment and no discrimination. They should be valued as highly as our veterans returning from war, for they fought as hard against all odds to make their jobs a better place.


HBLSF Winner Leilani Butac SalvateraJames Campbell High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU Striving for Success in Unity”

Most of them are gone. Buried in forlorn and windswept cemeteries near sandy beaches and rock shorelines on the edges of the cane fields, they seem to be a forgotten people, their lonely and weathered tombstones standing like erect and voiceless guards. But many of the old plantation laborers still remain; they had worked in the hot cane fields and the rumbling sugar mills. Now, in their final years, they rest and remember.

Many decades ago, they had left their homes in faraway lands-China, Portugal, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and other places-to labor on the plantations of Hawaii. Now in the evenings, they try to recall the old country, the village, the mountain behind it, the nearby river, and the farm, but they find their memories fading. In the mornings, they still wake up early, as they did in the old days when the 5 a.m. plantation siren sounded to announce the beginning of the workday. But they do not have to hurry now; lunas will no longer rout them out of bed and march them to the fields. They feel the aches and pains of bodies worn and damaged from long years of backbreaking plantation labor. They live quietly, some of them in cramped eight-by-eight foot rooms in Chinatown, all of their lifes possessions stuffed on shelves and under beds. Their faces wrinkled and their shoulders bent, they finger and study yellowed photographs of themselves-young, energetic, and hopeful.



HBLSF Winner Noelani CastroH.P. Baldwin High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa
“Jack Hall and the ILWU”

So all these little events and strikes led up to bigger ones. The big strikes which Jack Hall played a major part in was the Sugar Strike of 1946, the Pineapple Strike of 1947, and the Longshoremen Strike of 1949.

Jack Hall was willing to take chances no matter what.

He had the power of getting the people of Hawaii involved in the Union. Jack Hall was indeed a powerful and victorious figure in the ILWU.

He lived up to his own expectations when he said, “I don’t want to write history. I just want to make it.”


HBLSF Winner Jennifer SimMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“You Gotta Stick Together”

The Chinese lived in a very poor country. Most of the workers came to Hawaii to escape the violence of the Opium War (1839 to 1842) imposing drug trade. It was also the destruction of their own people. Many families would go hungry for days. Chinese laborers came to Hawaii to work and hoped that they would later return to their homeland to be more prosperous. …The Portuguese came to Hawaii to get their own land and get money to send their children to school. Poor people in Portugal were looked upon as if they were worthless and Hawaii became an option to getting a brighter future. Planters gave the Portuguese a contract to work for three years, and they in return got wages, daily rotations, lodging, garden ground, medical care, and transportation to the Islands.

These new immigrants lived half of the year at sea to get to Hawaii. …In 1868, the first Japanese laborers arrived in Hawaii. Many of them returned to Japan talking about the hard sea trip and how they were abused in the plantations. But recruiting agencies portrayed Hawaii as a “land of eternal summer and people were ‘sincere and gentle by nature.”‘ …The Norwegians were drawn to Hawaii because of the economic hardships and many were in search for land and employment. Hawaii opened the doors for the Norwegians. They were assured that plantation life would be okay and may even be prosperous. There were certain rules that they must follow. Breaking any of these rules would result in imprisonment or penalties. …In 1903, the first Korean contract laborers arrived in Hawaii. Hawaii represented a refuge from Japanese Imperialism. Recruiters promised free housing, medical care, and $16 per month for a 60-hour work week. …The Filipinos were the last big group to arrive in Hawaii to work in sugar plantations. Life in the Philipines was rough and many were in debt. Filipinos dreamed Hawaii would fulfill their goals by saving enough money to buy their own land. 


HBLSF Winner Dean TokishiMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“Brothers Under the Skin”

Today our country is the leader in striving for human rights, human dignity, and racial harmony. We support and urge the adoption of democratic principles in countries as far away as China and as nearby as Haiti. It is a curious coincidence that the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) advocated these very principles over half a century ago! The ILWU was a catalyst for a wide range of social reforms as well as racial harmony in Hawaii.

The ILWU has greatly shaped the way of life in Hawaii. It indirectly has helped me to pursue my educational and life’s goals just as it helped my parents achieve their goals. Yes, the ILWU certainly subscribes to the phrase ” … with equality for all.” I know that I am enjoying the lifestyle that I am because some special people over fifty years ago believed that “we are all brothers under the skin.”


HBLSF Winner Michael Victorino, Jr.St. Anthony Junior Senior High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“The History and Importance of the ILWU Local 142 ”

Nowhere in the history of the ILWU has there been a better test of the Union’s principles in action. Proof is the success which rank and file unionism has brought to Hawaii.

The ILWU’s major organizing efforts in the Islands were completed between late 1944 and the spring of 1945. An NLRB election was held in the midst of an illegal military occupation of the Islands and in the face of the most powerful opposition from one of the strongest groups of employers in America. The election victories, subsequent strikes, and collective bargaining achievements were no accidents. The achievements were fought hard for and won by the sacrifice and the unity of the rank and file members of the Union.

The Territory of Hawaii was completely in the hands of the big five holding companies. Because of the closeness between each corporation it assure them the ability to act as one. Their dictatorship reached into every corner of island life, not only financially

[and] industrially but politically and culturally as well. They exerted power at will on the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Territorial government.



HBLSF Winner Nina DomingoLaupahoehoe High and Elementary School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“History of the ILWU Contributions To Hawaii and Industry Workers”

Meanwhile longshore organization had started in Hilo under Harry Lehua Kamoku. Harry Lehua Kamoku, a round face Hawaiian-Chinese, was an apprentice at the age of sixteen and sailed for twelve years to return to Hawaii to organize the waterfront.

Hilo Longshoremen and Kamoku were the most militant Union members in Hawaii. In fact, they were the ones who started the modem labor movement in Hawaii.

Just as they preached the importance of solidarity and togetherness among the other Hilo workers, they also realized that they would need resources of affiliation with a strong mainland Union. They looked to John L. Lewis’s new militant Congress of International Organizations (CIO). They were drawn together because of their same commitment to the belief expressed in the CIO motto: Organize the unorganized.


HBLSF Winner Lesley FujimotoHonoka’a High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Jack Hall and the ILWU Union”

In the 1930’s the “Big Five” owned 96% of Hawaii’s economy. The “Big Five” were American Factors, Alexander and Baldwin, Castle and Cooke, C. Brewer, and Theo H. Davies. They owned insurance companies, sugar plantations, shipping, docks, some pineapple plantations, and large department stores. They earned millions of dollars each year from many sources.

When a sailor named Jack Hall came to the Islands he didn’t like what he saw. A seaman since he was seventeen, he had traveled the world and seen how Unions worked. Poor treatment of laborers upset him. The thought of balancing the labor management scale excited him. After walking the picket line with strikers in San Francisco, he was dedicated to the betterment of the working class.

Kauai was the island where Mr. Hall became an established labor organizer. He call for racial cooperation, urging laborers to stop thinking of themselves as Filipino, Hawaiian, or Japanese. He asked them to think of themselves as a class of people fighting for the same cause.


HBLSF Winner Christopher JustoHilo High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Jack Hall — ILWU Deliverer of Labor Rights”

Whenever I hear about the ILWU, a statement I learned in my U.S. Government class immediately comes to my mind. “Question Authority!” The laborers in unity “questioned the authority” of the “Big Five,” the most influential sugar companies in Hawaii’s economy, for better workers’ benefits that they deserved for their very harsh and strenuous work in the fields. The struggle of the ILWU and other labor unions paved the way to the better work and living of today’s plantation workers.

As Jack Hall wrote articles and pamphlets ridiculing the “Big Five” and still preached Union strategies, many strikes took place. Often the strikers would be accused of crimes that they did not commit. Labor organizers needed lawyers to bailout the numerous cases of accused strikers. Gladstein and law firm associated with the ILWU hired Harriet Bouslog and Myer Symonds. There were many cases to be taken care of. But these two courageous and brilliant lawyers won many cases. These two became a big part in helping the cause of the strikes, fighting for better working conditions for Hawaii’s laborers.

Unfortunately the work of the Union would be postponed because of World War II. During World War II, the Islands were placed in Martial Law. Laborers had to work more hours, Union contracts were suspended, and any job changes had to go through the military. Since military was the first priority, everything in the Islands were used for the military. Finally in early 1944, Martial Law was proclaimed illegal and many bans were lifted. Many laborers sought the opportunity to find better jobs elsewhere, leaving the plantations and docks to workers. Management was more willing to listen to gripes, recognize Unions and bargain with them. Their only alternative was expensive: finding new immigrants who would come to the Islands. Frozen wages of the laborers hurt prices making things very expensive. Although the Unions had pledged not to strike during the war, they did prepare for the postwar years. Union recruitment continued. West Cost labor officials eyed Hawaii’s potential Union power and sent representatives to the Islands. The ILWU felt it could best represent Hawaii’s working class and appointed Jack Hall as Regional Director in 1944. Under his leadership, the ILWU boasted 33,000 members within two years and became the multi-racial Union Jack Hall had dreamed about.

I am grateful because I am a recipient of the many benefits won by the ILWU. But most importantly from the ILWU I learned to stick up for my rights and to never give up. In the teaching profession I am pursuing, it is imperative not to give up on the kids. For the kids are the future, and teaching them values like standing up for what they believe, and not to give up will make them understanding and successful citizens. 


HBLSF Winner Elizabeth LopezHonoka’a High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU Story”

The ILWU Story concerns people who have to work in order to feed themselves and their families, to clothe and educate their children and meet the skyrocketing costs of daily living. This labor union is about each individual’s needs, problems, aims, and the dreams that they aspire to. Everyone seeks a better life and a higher standard of living. They want to be recognized in this society. It is how workers banded together to form a Union based on the broadest type of membership in democratic government. Believing that the broader the field of its responsibilities and participation in the life of the nation and in the progress of the world, the greater will be its success in its basic economic purpose.

The ILWU was the first Union to send delegates of rank overseas to visit other workers on other lands to get a better understanding of their struggles and goals so that they could solidify their international friendship.


HBLSF Winner Chucky Alan ViernesHonoka’a High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The History of the ILWU in Hawaii”

Twenty dollars a month, seventy hours a week, grueling labor, and no benefits whatsoever. Could you imagine being a worker held under these extreme conditions? Would you be able to work constantly under an abusive eye? Well, before labor unions existed, working conditions were inhuman and wages were measly, almost unthinkable. Employees slaved on sugar plantations and loading docks from sunrise to sunset, just to make an honest living. Employers did whatever they pleased when it came down to their workers. Employers seemed to have a notion of the master-servant relationship. This notion was one which did not grant to their employees the right of speech or collective action. Could you ever imagine being hunted down and/or beaten just for not showing up to work? Or maybe even judged just because of your ethnic background or racial preference? It is a fact, that before labor unions, employees in Hawaii were treated like slaves or animal, rather than human beings. This fact clearly projected the desperate need for labor organization. This birth of labor organization would begin a new era for industrial labor in Hawaii.



HBLSF Winner Brenda BatanganKauai High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“The Story and Struggles of the Union”

Time and again the workers never gave up. Their movements rose and fell and got defeated and wrecked in strikes. They also got wasted through compromise with employers just to survive. The human body is weak, but the human spirit is strong.

The ILWU was put to the test in their principles and actions against the sugar and pin apple employers. The employers dealt with protesters severely, and smashed every attempt of the workers to organize a union. With the Big Five ruling and dividing power, they imported many labor from different countries like China, Japan, Philippines, Azores, Puerto Rico, etc. Since the Big Five believed that opportunities and goals would be the same, they tried to reduce the efforts of organizing a labor union by giving nationalities to different plantations.

This made Hawaii the greatest melting pot of races allover the world. By unequal treatment, discrimination in pay and race, separate housing areas, they played their minds and promoted racial suspicion. Each race was considered a union among all other races of workers combined. when workers of a single racial line organized and staged a strike, they were helpless and powerless. They were driven from their company owned houses. Such was a tragic mistake, that a great number of people died of malnutrition, flu, and pneumonia. Their places were taken by workers of different nationalities.


HBLSF Winner Riley ShigemotoKauai High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU Scholarship Essay”

The ILWU has helped support the working people of Hawaii thanks to the efforts of Harriet Bouslog. Harriet Bouslog dedicated her life to the ILWU. She was the Union’s first General Counsel from 1946 to 1978. The ILWU took several key steps in the improvement of the Union.

The Sugar Strike of 1946 ended on November 18. These were the major points: (1) A 22 month contract with wages ranging from 70.5 cents to $1.38 an hour. The basic wage before the strike was 43.5 cents plus perquisites. (2) An end to the perquisite system. (3) A continuance of the 48 hour work week. The Union lost its bid for a 40 hour work week. (4) A continuance of the irrevocable checkoff system as guarantee of Union security. The Union did not get a Union shop.




HBLSF Winner Clifton BohnerPearl City High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU, The Pioneer in Big Time Unionism”

The history of Hawaii’s labor movement has a long and proud heritage. As in no other state in the country, Hawaii’s labor unions have developed with an independent manner influenced by the Island’s social history. For more than 1 00 years between 1840 and 1955, Hawaii was controlled by a handful of corporate families. The companies were C. Brewer, Alexander and Baldwin, Castle and Cooke, American Factors, and Theo Davies. These companies owned and controlled nearly every business or financial interest in the Island, they were known to Hawaii’s working force as the “Big Five.” Everything of significance from banks to shipping lines and sugar plantations to newspapers was tightly controlled by the Big Five. Fully one-third of the population of the Islands was living on the plantations with 70% of the people directly dependent on the plantation economy.

The ILWU benefitted the workers in many ways. They not only increased the workers wages and decreased working hours, but also set up health, dental, pension, and mechanization plans. In 1950, the Union fought for the field of welfare and health benefits for its Hawaii members. They developed the first policy aiming for the prevention of illness rather than seeking mere catastrophic insurance. Under the then existing plans such as Blue Cross, California Physicians Service, and Commercial Plans, doctors benefitted when patients became ill. For preventing illness through regular checkups, the doctor did not receive any money. ILWU saw this mistake and set forth to change this attitude toward prevention medicine. With the ILWU health plan, physicians were encouraged under these plans to arrest diseases before they became critical or expensive. The less illness, the more the gain for the physician with less time and effort expended. An example of this is the immunization of thousands of Hawaii’s children which prevented them from getting major diseases. Therefore, the Union members and their families stayed well.

The Union was also the first to establish a prepaid dental care plan to aid dependent children through the age of fourteen with dental service at no cost to the members. The ILWU Dental Plan went into effect on a pilot basis in 1954 with service being established in the four largest ports — Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Today in Hawaii, ILWU dental plan is called Hawaii Dental Service. ILWU has a lot to be proud of because its plan for its members and dependents is one of the best on the islands. This plan covers major dental work and even orthodontic work for dependents which many major insurance companies don’t cover.


HBLSF Winner Judelyn Ramos DabbayLeilehua High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU Contributions in 1946”

It was the morning of November 23, 1947. About a month prior to that day, a recruiter knocked on the door looking for new recruits to work on a sugar plantation in Hawaii. He said that the benefits have dramatically increased ever since the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union took over the plantations.

I thought to myself, “This must be a blessing from God. What a perfect opportunity!” At that time, my brothers and I had been working in the rice fields [in the Philippines] for a measly 24 cents an hour and rice production had been slowing down ever since the start of the war in 1941. Papa’s garden also yielded less fruits and vegetables since then. The entire family contemplated whether or not I should go. It was not an effortless decision. I sacrificed many sleepless nights thinking not only about how I would live my life on a sugar plantation but also how my family would get along without me. Finally, I concluded that I wanted to make money so that I could give my family a better life instead of the near-to-poverty life that we had been living.


HBLSF Winner Abigail MartinSacred Hearts Academy
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU in Hawaii”

In the late 1930’s, many plantation laborers felt like slaves. A lot of them primarily had come because they were promised wealth and opportunity. They wanted to look for work here in order to bring their entire family over for better lives. They all received housing, but plantation camps were very dingy and crowded. Medical care was available, but the strict foremen often forced sick workers into the fields anyway. A company store was available, but the prices were inflated. The pay was nothing to be proud of, the hours barely gave any free time, and there was hardly any privacy around the area. The workers felt like there was nothing they could possibly do. At that time, the “Big Five” controlled about 96% of Hawaii’s economy. They were the employers that the workers could not find the courage to stand up to.

Today’s plantation workers have a far better life than that of over sixty years ago. They are paid a living wage and have many good benefits. The workers are now respected and have a say in the happenings of their future. They could not have done it without leaders like Jack Hall and a union like the ILWU. The power of labor unions have entered the lives of Hawaii’s working class.


HBLSF Winner Alma TrinidadMililani High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Together We Are One”

“An injury to one is an injury to all.” Sounds familiar? As a Union, the ILWU has been through many rough roads. Through it all, it has become very successful. Many have sacrificed their life working hard for the Union, but onl y a few stood out. They are Jack Wayne Hall, Harriet Bouslog, Eddie Tangen, Robert McElrath, and Thomas Trask. With enormous courage and high hope from these individuals, we are now proud and fortunate to be a part of an industrial democracy in Hawaii.

ILWU improved “labor economic, social, and educational legislation. ” “The ILWU initiated or gave support to legislation on taxation, civil service, government organization, education, culture and the arts, public welfare, health delivery service, No-Fault Insurance, housing, public utilities service, programs for elderly, child care, youth service, consumer protection, planning and economic development, tourism, promotion of agriculture, conservation, immigrant services.” ILWU opposed the death penalty and favored legalization of abortion.


HBLSF Winner Bryan Isami SakuokaLeilehua High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU — Helping Hawaii’s People”

Upon receiving my first Foodland paycheck, I wondered why a portion of my earnings was being deducted for the ILWU. I then proceeded to research into the ILWU and its formation into the strongest and most productive labor unions in Hawaii, and one of the most powerful unions on the West Coast. Being a Union member, I have become a direct beneficiary of the hard-fought wage increases and benefits gained by the ILWU.

The ILWU has worked hard in the political arena to push for the passing of bills that deal with major problems such as unemployment, housing, and social services. They also were the only believers in diversifying Hawaii’s economy. The Union was crucial in passing bills to allow Hawaii to become less dependent on its sugar and pineapple industries. In accomplishing this task, the ILWU may have saved the economy in Hawaii, considering the economic difficulties of both industries, which used to be the focal point in Hawaii’s economy.


HBLSF Winner Joanalyn Casimiro Lagat
Henry Perrine Baldwin High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Landmark Events and Individuals of the ILWU”

The year 1938 was considered to be the year of violence. In 1938, fifty people most of them Union members, were shot and wounded by the police on the Hilo waterfront. This was called “The Hilo Massacre” by laborers. Any militant Union leaders in Hawaii risked getting beatup by police officers. Jim Cooley and Jack Hall were playing a major role in organizing when the shooting in Hilo occurred; and Hall’s beating took place during the strikes by the CIO Inland Boatmen’s Union. On May 26, the IBU and ILWU longshore Local 1-37 struck Inter-Island, and on May 28 the AFL Metal Trades Council of Honolulu joined in the strike. The issue was wages and the closed shop — a place where only Union members may work. Hall stated that “Whatever the strike had cost, it marked a turning point when the strike began, many people expected the Hawaiians in the Union to hold out about four days. The Hawaiians, they said, are easy-going. All they want is a little fish and poi and their liquor. This slander was disproved by the strike.

The Hawaiians demonstrated to the world that they showed the determination and stamina of workers everywhere.


HBLSF Winner Ginny Michiko Maile Nakata
Lahainaluna High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“A World of Better Opportunities”

My grandfather, Noboru Okamura, was the eldest of seven children. After the eighth grade, he dropped out of school to work on the plantation and help support his family. He worked exasperatingly long hours, receiving maybe 20 cents an hour. They were treated like slaves. Like the South, Hawaii was a home for partiality and prejudice was running wild, like a pack of wolves on the prey.

At the end of World War II, the ILWU went into politics. In May of 1945, the Hawaii Employment Relations Act was passed. It enabled the ILWU to become active on both sugar and pineapple plantations. In 1946 the ILWU won an “industry-wide” contract, giving them power within the pineapple and longshore industries. Having organized three of the most prominent industries in Hawaii — sugar, pineapple, and longshore — the Union was the most powerful “labor voice” in the State. My grandfather and other plantation workers saw this as an opportunity of a lifetime. Immediately, they joined the Union.



HBLSF Winner Elsa EstantinoHilo High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The History and Organization of the ILWU in Hawaii”

The ILWU is an independent, voluntary association of working men and women. They are joined together mutually to aid and protect one another in their economic welfare. The Union bargains collectively on behalf of its members with employers or groups of employers who may also be organized in associations. They set wages, hours, and conditions of employment.

The ILWU is an industrial organization meaning it organizes vertically in the theory that all workers in a plant or establishment or industry have common interests.

The supreme body in policy-making and direction of the Union is the Biennial Convention. It is held every two years and attended by representatives elected by each Local. During the Convention, the record of the Union is reviewed as well as the stewardship of the Officers for the preceding two years and their actions on policy directives.


HBLSF Winner Summer WoffordKonawaena High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Voices of Labor”

In March of 1944, Matthew 1. Meehan, an ILWU International Secretary from Seattle, was sent to Honolulu to select a regional director. A woman named Harriet Bouslog was the ILWU’s Legal Counsel, and she recognized early on that Hawaii was under a noticeable class system with its “haole” ruling class versus “non-haole” laborers. Bouslog decided to work for the ILWU and put her law degrees to good use waging battle against oppression of the people. She saw from the start that Jack Hall was the best leader for the ILWU and recommended him to Meehan for the regional directorship. It was in April 1944 that Meehan made his choice, Jack Wayne Hall. He liked the fact that Hall had been involved with the labor movement for nine years, was familiar with the conditions in the Islands, and “had the confidence of the people.” Hall also had worked in the Wage and Hour Division during the war and knew all the labor laws. Hall, after a unanimous vote, eagerly took the job on June 1, 1944, earning a respectable $75 a week. 




HBLSF Winner Aron AbeAiea High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU Through Four Generations”

People like my great-grandfather and grandfather witnessed or experienced the extreme hardships of the earlier period of the ILWU in Hawaii. Times are calmer now but I do know that it takes continued effort on the part of the Union members to hold onto all that has been accomplished. My father and uncle are both employed by a stevedoring company in Honolulu. As ILWU members, they have also been participants in their Unit Committee. They have seen changes brought on with the support of the Union in wage increases, increases in pension benefits, the addition of the Harry Bridges holiday, and work uniforms.

Now I am the fourth generation of this family to be affected by the existence of the ILWU in Hawaii. If there is one lesson I can say I learned from all this reading and interviewing [for this
essay], it’s probably about the “power of people united.” They stood their ground and won against corporations that stand tall in high-rises.


HBLSF Winner Vivian Christine BohnerPearl City High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Impact of the ILWU Upon Filipino Workers in Hawaii”

The history of the Filipinos coming to Hawaii began in 1898. The coming of the Filipinos to Hawaii seems like an inescapable result of the United States policy of territorial expansion. The Spanish surrendered the Philippines to the United States in agreement with a condition of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. At the same time, the United States was completing action against the immigration from Asia ending in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1900 and the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907, which lengthened disallowance to the Japanese. The Hawaii Sugar Planters’ Association (HSPA), which had been counting on China and Japan for plantation labor, changed its recruitment attempts to the Philippines, whose people, as a result of annexation, were free to travel to the United States without restriction. Filipino immigration to Hawaii took place between 1906 and 1909, but it was not until 1910, after the HSPA organized a Manila office, provided fares to Honolulu, and three-year contracts to recruits, the Filipinos began to arrive in large numbers in Hawaii.


HBLSF Winner Debra M. MaedaLeilehua High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU-The Foundation of Equality — The Working People’s Union”

The ILWU created a tremendous impact upon the people of Hawaii. The ILWU taught the people not only unity, but also confidence to speak up against their employers if there were any unfair labor practices going on. In addition to that, the ILWU gave the people a sense of security with the Union always there to back them up. Lastly, the ILWU has greatly affected the government with its push toward democracy. In fact, the ILWU even helped the Democratic Party gain control of the Legislature in 1954. The most important contribution to the government by the ILWU was probably its work in he1ping gain statehood. In gaining statehood for Hawaii, there was strategy involved. Mr. John Burns wanted to allow Alaska to try to gain statehood first. If statehood did not come through for Alaska, Burns would be sacrificing his career. However, if statehood for Alaska did come through, Hawaii would then have a better chance in gaining statehood. Alaska would be the Democratic State and Hawaii would be the Republican State.


HBLSF Winner Gina Marie Gayle Agcaoili SalcedoWaipahu High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU: A Flame of Determination and Concern”

The ILWU helped out the elders in the mid-1950s. Separation pay and repatriation allowances enabled older workers who were Philippine nationals to return home. As you know, many Filipinos came to the Islands to “strike-it-rich” and get a taste of freedom. They soon returned home with sizable sums before normal retirement age.

To cope with longshore layoffs due to mechanization and containerization which came in the early 1960s, longshoremen were pooled and flown to other Island ports where work had to be done, or transferred, along with clerks, to the Pacific Coast parts where there were many job openings. The ILWU constantly made sure that the people who had no jobs or lost their jobs, were accounted for.

With the support of the ILWU, the Jack Hall Housing project was followed through. This project provided housing for Union members and pensioners as well as for the community.



HBLSF Winner Casey ChoMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Rough Road to the ILWU”

The longshoremen’s struggle came to a climax in 1916, when International Longshore Association (ILA) Local 38-26 struck over wages and demanded a union shop. Three hundred Hawaiian workers demanded a wage of 40 cents an hour for a 9-hour day and overtime pay of 55 cents an hour. Their rate then was $2 per day for 9 hours, with 40 cents for overtime work. In addition to Union recognition, the men asked for the establishment of a Board of Arbitration, to be made of Union and management people, to deal with issues as they arose.

Despite the racial unity achieved by the Maui Local, the employers were still able to recruit scabs from the continuous flow of workers from the plantation. The employers hired scabs and refused to meet with the strike committee, despite efforts of the Chamber of Commerce to mediate the dispute. When the Union appealed to the Mayor of Honolulu for assistance, he agreed to present their case in writing to the employers. Although the companies refused the offer, one prominent businessman offered the startling observation that the Longshoremen were entitled to at least $4 per day. Their wages of $2 per day were just what they had been 30 years before, he noted, despite sharp increases in the cost of living in recent years.


HBLSF Winner Sheri Ann Pualani HallKamehameha Schools
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU In Hawaii”

Good news came on January 23, 1945 when the NLRB sustained the ILWU’s position that included bargaining in 50-60% of all sugar plantation ‘Yorkers to the National Relations Act (Wagner Act).

The hearings held in Hilo and Honolulu were lead by Hall, Nakano, and Arakaki. In Washington, the hearings were held by Harriet Bouslog and Martin Raphael.

It was during this time that the checkoff system, management collecting money from paychecks and paying straight to the Union, was established.

After September 2,1945, Jack Hall went to San Francisco to find out if sugar companies could be sued for failure to pay overtime to workers during the war. A $1,500,000 settlement was received on January 3, 1946.


HBLSF Winner Jennifer Elizabeth MartinH.P. Baldwin High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Jack Hall, An ILWU Legend”

Born in Asland, Wisconsin, on February 28, 1915, Jack Wayne Hall had a rough childhood. When Jack was just four and a half years old, his mother shot and killed herself. This event and constant beatings from his father kept Jack Hall from experiencing what should have been a normal happy childhood. However, despite his family life, Hall did his best in school and was able to skip two levels of grade school, allowing him to graduate from high school at age sixteen. Because he lacked financial resources to pay for a college education, his dream of becoming a physicist would never come true, but Hall would go on to make great contributions to society.

As a young man, Hall got jobs aboard sailing ships which sometimes brought him to Hawaii. He love the Islands so much that in 1935 he made Hawaii his home. At the time of his arrival, a tabloid supporting the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union was being conceived. Hall, already sympathetic to the plight of the working man, became involved in the enterprise and helped produce the very first issue of The Voice of Labor.


HBLSF Winner Courtnee SakamotoMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Development of Unionism in Hawaii”

From the picket lines the battles moved into the courtroom. As a result of the 1946 and 1947 strikes, several hundred ILWU members faced charges ranging from simple assault and battery to illegal assembly and riot. It was at this time that Harriet Bouslog, the ILWU representative in Washington was tapped by Harry Bridges to come to Hawaii and handle the load of ILWU cases. Bridges had a high regard of the capabilities of Harriet Bouslog, and insisted that she come to Hawaii to the defend the ILWU cases. Reluctantly she came to Hawaii in October 1946. Myer Symonds was also persuaded to come to Hawaii to work with Bouslog.

They divided the cases, and the battle in the courtroom raged. “By the time I got through, I had sued judges on practically every island, ” she [Bouslog] said. “Through sheer gall and persistence and the use of civil rights suits … I kept the cases from going to trial until, finally, when the cases were to be tried or disposed of, the atmosphere had changed so that neither the employer nor the court wished to disturb the harmony” (from A Spark Is Struck).



HBLSF Winner Lori AmaralPahoa High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“The ILWU and the History of Hawaii”

As World War II struck Hawaii on December 7, 1941, all wages and jobs were frozen. Many workers were either fined or jailed for absenteeism. The intense pressure of the war and restrictions imposed by Martial Law made it almost impossible for labor organization to function. Military control started to overrule the plantations. This caused workers resentment toward the military, and the little advancement that the Union had made before the war had fallen apart again. Civilian army workers got paid much more than plantation workers for doing the same work, but no one could help the workers because the military was in control. By 1943, military control started to relax and unionism on the plantations started up again, as the ILWU began to resume it organizational drive led by Jack Kawano. Soon afterward, complaints against the military authorities began to be heard. It was toward the end of the war that the Union started to appear with a great bulk of membership. The labor freeze, Martial Law, discrimination against the Japanese, and the influence of Mainland unionist all combined to pave the way for big growth in labor organization.



Honoka’a High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“A Voice Is Heard”

No other part of the United States felt the impact of the war as much as Hawaii. The way of life was drastically changed by the many war restrictions. A rigid nightly blackout was immediately ordered and continued long after the emergency had passed. A curfew and gasoline rationing made traveling almost impossible. There were also occasional food shortages.

The people lived continuously prepared for war. They carried gas masks, emergency food kits, and made bomb shelters ready. Everyone was fingerprinted and given identification cards. They were also immunized against smallpox and typhoid fever. Martial Law had been proclaimed and it was not until October 24, 1944 that it was terminated.

With war’s end, Hawaii again turned her attention to the development of her peacetime economy. The lowering of racial, cultural, and social barriers especially on the plantations had been hastened by the war. The sons and daughters of aliens who had come to the Islands as laborers were moving ahead in the business, professional, and political fields. A greater blending of races was taking place in the population due to the increased number of inter-racial marriages.



HBLSF Winners Matthew GomezPearl City High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU in Hawaii”

They had to stop the plantation from harvesting their crop in order to win the strikes. So they used picket lines to stop the irrigation of the crops. The ILWU was putting pressure on the workers to join the Union. They were brought to court. They lost their case and were told not to picket anymore. So Hall decided if they could not picket any more, they would have a parade instead. They held a meeting in town. They would have a head count like the army so they knew if anyone was missing or not. The crops began to dry up so the company wanted to negotiate again. The company was being stubborn so Hall broke off the bargaining. The strike surprisingly ended on November 18. The workers got an increase in wages of up to 70.5 cents to $1.38 an hour, the end to the perquisite system, to work 48 hours a week, and a checkoff system. Hall thought it was a great victory and the workers thought it was too.

On April 1950, the House Committee on Un-American Activities came to Hawaii. Hall knew sooner or later he would have to face them, and sure enough he had to. During the trial, many of the ILWU members took the Fifth Amendment. They thought the trial was to discredit the ILWU and to break it apart. As the trial went on many of the people refused to testify. That included Mr. Hall.

On August 28, 1951, early in the morning, there was a knock of Jack Hall’s apartment. It was the FBI. Hall was arrested for violation of the Smith Act. But he was not the only one that was being arrested, there were six others. Everyone called them the “Hawaii Seven.” The night before Hall got arrested he had just completed the final details of the sugar contract. They said it was a plan to ruin the Union. They said that because there was the Lanai strike going on and Hall was a crucial part of the negotiation. They also added that it was no coincidence that Hall was arrested during this time. But as usual, there still was the meeting for the Sugar Negotiating Committee, even though Hall was arrested. They came to a conclusion that they would suspend negotiating until Hall came back because he was their spokesman and brain. Then on August 28, 1951, the FBI released biographies of the seven defendants. The outcome of the trial was that Hall got indicted.

[Note: Matthew Gomez has elected to attend Honolulu Community College in Fall 1994 rather than continue at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.]



HBLSF Winner Janine DennyKauai High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU and Hawaii”

The ILWU was originally part of the International Longshoremen’s Association (Il.A). However, in August 1937, the longshoremen in coast wide referendum voted to go to the CIO, leaving them free to develop in their own way, instead of being part of a corrupt, national union.

Sam Kagel, a young staff member of the Pacific Coast Labor Bureau, a private research and consulting firm with unions described how Bridges felt about the Union, ” … it hit him that if the Union didn’t branch out and have a strong warehouse division, in time it would be nothing but a labor trust with a dwindling membership on the waterfront.” Kagel felt that if the Union didn’t branch out into warehouse, he doubted if the ILWU could have organized Hawaii.

By controlling these important industries, Bridges and Hall did indeed have Hawaii’s economy in the palms of their hands. They used this power to better Hawaii and to improve working conditions for all.


Jennifer L. GarciaWaimea High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU Essay”

The only logical and sensible occupation for Filipino immigrants was to be in the local sugar plantation. My grandfather and grandmother became cane pickers while my uncles did miscellaneous chores around the plantation until they got old enough to apply for a job. My Uncle Delfin eventually became a supervisor, and still is, for Kekaha Sugar Company. My father followed suit and applied to be a truck driver as soon as he could. For him, by that time, money was badly needed and the youngsters had grown enough to take care of themselves. Besides, the plantation job allowed him to stick to his land and cultivate it. The plantation did very good for my grandparents and their children. It provided shelter, food, and money for the family.

My grandparents are still living in that same house in Kekaha. Most of the children have gone off, looking for their own success, in their own way, but many grandchildren often come to see grandma. Just recently ,my father has turned in an application form to become a supervisor at Kekaha Sugar Plantation. He might not have gone to school to get the kind of education that we have, but he has the common sense and knowledge about plants and life itself that no school will be able to teach. I cherish my father dearly and I thank him for struggling through those hard times just for my brother and I. I think that I’ll even give him a hug today when I see him.


HBLSF Winner Keven JacintoKauai High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU and Its Impact on Hawaii”

Another power play that the Union engaged in was the 178-day strike of the 2,000 longshoremen in 1949. Apparently, Hawaii longshoremen had fallen more than 32 cents behind West Coast Longshoremen. The management of the distressed Olaa plantation, which had already suffered from a 17-day strike, wanted a pay cut of 17% and also wanted an 8 cents cost of living increase. All shipping in the Hawaiian Islands remained at a standstill and the Islands suffered heavily. Small businesses went bankrupt. President Truman at that
time was called, however, he announced that he could not do anything to intervene in the strike. It seems that the ILWU, by holding a strike, could crush the economy and way of living in the Islands. Its affects are far reaching and may be beneficial or detrimental.

By June of 1949, the unemployment level escalated to 20,000 people and it was growing by more than a thousand a week due to lack of shipping. According to Fuchs (p. 360), about one fifth of the businesses in Honolulu were cutting wages by as much as 20 to 25% and more small business were dying each day. Food shortages were occurring statewide and the public was getting restless. The ILWU and Jack Hall were again accused of being Communists striving to control the economy of Hawaii.

Although another stevedoring company was successful in unloading cargo from the continental United States, businesses were not able to load ships for export because ports were completely controlled by the ILWU. On July 20,1949, there were 29 people injured when 2,000 strikers attempted to stop the stevedoring company from unloading boats at the gates of the company. More than 200 strikers were arrested. The Governor declared a state of emergency.

The Castle and Cooke Company represented Matson Navigation Company for off record negotiations on October 7, 1949. This resulted in a 14 cents per hour wage increase and a 7 cents increase in March the following year. Although the Union won, it was not well liked by the public. However, the members of the ILWU were really loyal to this cause. In January 1955, the ILWU consolidated their strengths from sugar, pineapple, shipping, and other industries and formed the new Local 142. Although the public had grown used to the unions by 1955, it was looked upon as a very dangerous force because it could easily cripple the economy of the Islands and control its politics.


1991 OAHU


HBLSF Winner Christopher Toshiro OkamuraSt. Louis High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“A Brief History of the ILWU and Its Influence on the People of Hawaii”

The pre-labor Union days in Hawaiian history were marked by a dominance of business, racial discrimination, and poor working conditions. The lives of laborers were tied strongly to their employers, especially those employed on the plantations. The control exerted by business over labor force is incomprehensible by today’s standards and youth. Some people knew nothing other than the plantation they lived, worked, and died on without having really seen the outside world. Businesses in Hawaii, which were controlled by the Big Five, were used to turning a profit even in the hard times of the 1930’s. They took great pains to insure these profits by keeping the labor force under control by whatever means necessary, from violence to psychological manipulation. It wasn’t at all uncommon for workers to be threatened with the loss of their jobs or violence. These threats usually came from lunas (working foremen), however, it was clearly understood that this was company policy.


HBLSF Winner Shirley A. SalcedoWaipahu High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“History and Contributions of the ILWU”

Before Jack Hall’s arrival in Hawaii, plantation workers, particularly the Japanese and Filipinos, had organized labor unions on a racial basis, independent of each other though they were working for the same plantation. The Filipinos–and no doubt the Japanese, too-believed that if all the Filipinos on a given plantation went on strike, they would paralyze the operations and win their demands.

But it is of Filipino brawn and bravery that much of the foundation of the labor movement in Hawaii was built. It was the Filipinos who manned the picket lines, cooked the rice, and kept up the spirits of hundreds stationed in the “Little Manilas” where the strikers encamped. It was the Filipinos who spilt their blood in the Hanapepe “massacre.” It is the Filipinos who, today, comprise the majority of the workers of the “new plantation” — the service workers of Hawaii’s tourist industry.



HBLSF Winner Jase Ken MiyabuchiMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

” An Injury To One Is An Injury To All”

When Antonio Fagel and eight others were charged with conspiracy, no Hawaii lawyers were available to defend Union members. A call for help was forwarded to the International Labor Defense organization and lawyer Grover C. Johnson from San Bernadino, California arrived on June 17th where he was greeted by several thousand people at the airport. The strike ended on July 17, 1937, where it lasted for 86 days. The workers gained a small raise but, more important recognition of the Union. This was the last racial strike in Hawaii and the first time the industry officially recognized strikers. Eight men and Fagel were convicted of third degree conspiracy.

On April 22, 1937, the Port Allen Longshoremen went on strike against Kauai Terminals over overtime pay for work over 8 hours. William Makanui, their leader, asked Honolulu for help and Jack Hall and Bill Bailey were sent to help. Their first recommendation was not only for the workers to return to work immediately, but to organize also. This was the beginning of the Port Allen Waterfront Workers Association. On August 8, 1937, the fledgling Union went on strike and demanded a Close Shop. The Union accused Kauai of hiring new hands and recruiting them into a company union. The strike lasted for 80 days, and signaled Hall’s education as a labor leader. He had to learn to use a pair of chopsticks in order to survive eating with the locals, and he soon realized that the Japanese and Filipinos were the militants; the Hawaiians and Portuguese were usually soft.

Weariness, lack of money, and lack of support beat the strike. They accepted a seniority hiring clause and called off the strike. Hall became an established union organizer on Kauai. He talked a lot to workers about their rights, about the gains of labor on the mainland. He always spoke straight and never down to them. “You have to level with people or it will catch up with you,” Hall said.

By February 1938, Labor in Hawaii was on the march, and the Boss’ wheels on Merchant Street had it figured that it was time to give the rising movement another kick in the groin. Hall was beaten and jailed because he helped build and lead a successful labor movement in Hawaii. He was considered a danger because he told the truth.



HBLSF Winner Catherine ManejaHilo High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“Scholarship Essay”

There is usually strength in numbers, and when one racial union struck against the company, it did not do much good, because it was just a handful of workers. The little racial unions striking one by one were weak compared to a full scale attack with all the workers striking at once. It is like the hunter hunting a boar. That boar can dodge the bullets more easily when only one hunter is shooting at him rather than three or four hunters shooting at him.This is the same situation the the racial unions were in. The Big Five could avoid their single attacks and pretty soon, the strikers would become tired and run out of “ammunition.” The employers could take advantage of the disunity among the racial groups and thus suppress the growth of the unions in Hawaii.

All the employers joined together because they knew that if they allowed the workers to organize and win improvements through unionism in one place, the workers on other plantations would surely do the same.


HBLSF Winner Roberta Lynn Nohealani RossKonawaena High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“Jack Hall and the Establishment of the ILWU”

At just about dawn everyday over fifty determined men in work clothes, stood in line on the shipping docks. These men were desperate to earn money for their families. They waited anxiously for the timekeeper hoping that it would be their lucky day. The timekeeper would walk slowly down the line and point randomly at men and say “you.” These men would work that day. This hiring practice was called the “shape up.” Workers didn’t like this practice because they didn’t think it was fair.

“Speed up” was another practice the workers didn’t like because if a foreman didn’t think a worker was perspiring enough, he accused him of not working hard enough and sent him home. Many times the dismissed worker wasn’t chosen again for two or three weeks.

Life on Hawaii’s docks was dangerous, difficult, and unfair.


HBLSF Winner Dennis Wayne Demotta Jr.St. Joseph High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo


American labor and management had pledged not to disrupt the war efforts with disputes. The employers, on their side, felt sure that once the war was over and they were free to move against the Union, they could smash it. The employers though t their ace in the hole would be racial disunity. In 1946, they imported 6,000 new workers from the Philippine Islands, fresh from Japanese occupation. The employers were sure that they would be filled with hatred of the Japanese and would refuse to cooperate with them in a strike when the first agreement expired in 1946. But the Union men arranged with the seagoing unions to ship out Union organizers on the crew of the ship which had brought the newcomers to Hawaii, and before they arrived, they had all been signed up on Union cards. They were greeted on the docks and at the plantations with brass bands, leis, luaus, and welcomed into the Union family.

When the strike did start in 1946, they were as solid as any other group. The strike lasted for 79 days. Hundreds of workers were arrested, but the membership held through and won the first clear-cut strike victory of the Islands. Wages were raised to 60.5 cents an hour, and they got a contract which protected workers’ rights to fair treatment, to raise grievances, and to take part in community affairs and political action without discrimination. Since then, the ILWU went on to negotiate pension plans, severance pay, and protection for workers against being thrown out when the industry changed over from handcutting of cane to machine harvesting.

Workers now have dignity and respect.



HBLSF Winner Elisabeth Alisan Kuulei ContradesKamehameha Schools
University of Hawaii, Manoa

” A History of the ILWU in Hawaii”

The ILWU got its foothold in Hawaii shortly after its founding in May 1937. After splitting from its founding parent, the International Labor Association, the Union helped its first group in Hawaii, the Port Allen Longshoremen, to organize and gave out Union charters in October of 1937 (Beechert, p. 260-61). But before the arrival of the ILWU, workers found it extremely difficult to effectively present their demands to the managers.

When Hawaii became a Territory of the United States in 1900, the old system of labor was abolished. Workers were free to leave their jobs or go on strike for better pay and working conditions (Menton, 1989). Though they exercised this option to strike once in a while, the workers hardly ever got anywhere. This was mainly because they were often separated racially.


HBLSF Winner Liza Ann Layaoen GarciaWaimea High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“What Comes Naturally”

In 1841, workers at the Koloa Plantation went on strike for 25 cents a day. They asked for about 2 cents an hour, yet management said the request was outrageous.

In 1917, a new Higher Wages Association timidly reminded the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association that the cost of living due to the war had risen 115 % and that the plantation salaries of $20 to $24 a month were no longer sufficient in order to live. So the plantation owners came up with a new idea, but this new idea said that the workers could share in the losses but not the profits! As the cost of living got higher, the wages didn’t change accordingly. In 1943, according to Jack Kawano, sugar mill workers’ pay was “terrible” — as little as 33 and 1/3 cents per hour.

This act of plantation owners of low wages was not the only thing they did that came naturally. They also made the laborers work long hours. The average work day in 1907 was 12 hours for mill hands. The plantation owners were not afraid that the workers were going to quit if they worked hard hours. The plantation owners knew that for the immigrants, the plantation life was all they knew.


HBLSF Winner Maribel SagucioWaimea High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU and the History of the Sugar Industry”

When the sugar industry developed, the Native Hawaiians were the main laborers. They were paid only 12.5 cents plus food and shelter for labor that lasted from dawn to dusk. Because the industry was growing, there was a lack of laborers to satisfy the economy’s demand, so the Bureau of Immigration supervised the importation of laborers and immigrants from foreign lands.

In 1876, when the Hawaiian sugar was able to enter the United States, the demand for laborers increased. Dissatisfied with the number of imported workers, the immigration agents went around the world searching for more workers. They brought more workers into the Islands.

The ILWU helped unionize the workers. The Union did not discriminate against anyone, regardless of race, color, or religion. Therefore, many workers voted for the Union and it became very successful. The Union also led the laborers to strike for better conditions.

In 1940, the ILWU went on strike. The employees wanted higher wages for both agricultural and longshore workers. Employees refused to work. The strike continued rallying for 10 months until there was a serious defeat for the Union.

The following year, the Hawaii’s longshore industry contract was signed. It was the first time in Hawaii’s history a Union agreement was signed. After being successful, the ILWU planned to organize the sugar industry.




HBLSF Winner Rochele Kaleiokalani KiahaKamehameha Schools
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Hawaii’s Longshoremen’s Strike of 1949”

Another key person of the 1949 strike was Harriet Bouslog, a 1936 graduate of Indiana University, who dedicated part of her 34-year career in defending the striking longshoremen
of 1949.

Bouslog, believed to have been the first woman attorney hired by a “Big Five” law firm, served as a legislative representative and lobbyist of the ILWU in Washington, D. C. Bouslog “pleaded for the rights of the longshoremen.” In defense of the longshoremen, she named, “the governor, the legislature, and the Big Five with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of longshoremen.” She requested the rights to conduct a picket as she felt it was “a monument to free men,” which was “somewhat sarcastically granted.” She supported the picket and felt that out of that lone picket, the longshoremen obtained the respect of merchant men and others.


HBLSF Winner Reinavida B. VerceluzSacred Hearts Academy
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Solidarity Forever”

The status of the ILWU as a leader and a success would not have been possible without the many individuals who contributed and dedicated their lives in preserving the spirit of this Union. Of the many outstanding patrons, I would like to recognize the accomplishments of Harriet Bouslog. Having served as theUnion’s first General Counsel from 1946 to 1978 and her expertise as a lawyer, she symbolized the essence of the meaning of dedication and commitment for Hawaii’s working people. “She saw the hierarchy of haole ruling class and non-haole subordinates … She remembered going home from a party at three in the morning and watching the women who were going to work at that hour. She felt that for the privileged it was a good life; for the under privileged it was hard.” This realization had paved the way for future involvement with the ILWU.

One of her influential contributions involved the courtroom battles following the 1946 and 1947 strikes. IT..- WU members were charged with assaults, battery, riots, and illegal assembly. With the help of Bouslog, “the three-judge court concluded that the 1947 Maui County Grand Jury was illegally constituted and that the assembly and riot act and the conspiracy statutes of the Territory were void and and unconstitutional.”



HBLSF Winner Scott M. SuzukiMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Hawaii’s Inspiration”

Harry Bridges was an inspiration to the people of Hawaii because of his patient attitude and “never surrender” determination. Harry Bridges founded the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union in 1934and was its President until 1977.

In the formation of the ILWU there needed to be an understanding ofthe workers’ struggles in Hawaii. During the early 1900’s, workers worked hard in the fields and plantations.

Along the way to a better work place, they shed “blood, sweat, and tears.” Blood meaning the wounds that the workers received during the strikes and arrests. Sweat meaning the hardships that these workers went through while working. And tears, for the loss of the loved ones during the early strikes and for the pain and struggling that took place.


HBLSF Winner Nora DomingoMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU: Its Impact Upon Hawaii and Its People”

Today, field and factory workers in sugar, pineapple, and macadamia nut industries belong to a single statewide Union, the Hawaii ILWU Local 142. It also represents workers in dairies, ranches, and hotels as well as the Longshoremen who were the first group to be organized. I’ve never realized how much of an impact ILWU has had on Hawaii and its people but after doing some research and interviewing my parents and uncles, especially my grand-uncle, I learned a lot. This Local and all that it represents to its members and to the rest of the working people in Hawaii was born in the early and unsuccessful struggle by our immigrant racial groups-all racial struggles against injustice didn’t come through because workers were unable to communicate with each other through language barriers, cultural barriers, and a deliberate program of the employers to keep them isolated in every possible way. The ILWU gave workers strength they never had before. For the first time labor confronted management on equal terms. Laboring men and women elected their own choices for offices.



HBLSF Winner Virginia Mae CaravalhoKohala High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“The ILWU In Hawaii”

The history of the working man both here in Hawaii and on the continental United States has been a tragedy. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and the worker worked harder. The all-powerful boss could easily crush economically as well physically any worker or a small group of workers who dared to step above their assigned worker class position. When one man rose up he has no one to watch his back. When one group rose up they had to be careful of the other groups. After all, the other groups would have nothing to lose and perhaps much to gain if they could tell on the rebels. Of course, the bosses would be happy to know that there was someone planning to make trouble for him. In Hawaii, this was especially true because of the distrust among ethnic groups.

This method of keeping workers separated and uneducated was an effective way to keep their workers relatively quiet.


HBLSF Winner Constance R. SeeKa’u High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“ILWU, Great Asset for People of Hawaii”

By 1882, the Bureau of Immigration conceded that abuse of the laborers on some plantations was more than evident. Language difficulties were blamed for some cases, the thoughtless behavior of the managers to others. The Bureau recommended that a change be made to protect the workers. They made it a law to protect the laborers, no matter
their age, race, or color.

During the time of the Union strike, my grandmother, Rosita A venue, was a young child. She told me that when her father worked at the Sugar Plantation, he used to work from as early as 4:30 in the morning to 6:00 at night. At that time, he used to make $1 a day, and get paid once a month. My grandma survived on mostly garden vegetables and rice. As a source of meat, her father used to raise pigs. When her father joined the Union, things for him and his family became much more difficult. They used to be ignored and teased of being Communist. The Union was only for the plantation then. Teachers, policemen, along with priests called families joining the Union Communists. When they went on strike in April 1958, it was for five and a half months. My grandmother said they were lucky to have the Union or else they would not be able to eat at such places as a “Soup Kitchen,” an area where the community would get together and make a meal.


HBLSF Winner Gary A. Viernes Jr.Honoka’a High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“Impact of the ILWU On My Family”

Before labor unions existed, working conditions were insane, wages measly, and benefits unheard of. Men on the sugar plantations worked from sunrise to sunset with very little pay. Many Asian women worked along side their husbands to supplement their small incomes. In fact, most women worked just as long, and as hard as their hus bands did, but got paid less and suffered inequality. Employers did whatever they wanted and got away with it.

In Hawaii, most of the workers did not know about the Roosevelt New Deal. So Jack Hall started to organize Hawaii’s first labor newspaper, “Voice of Labor. ” This newspaper was dedicated to the labor movement. The “Voice” was used to spread the word to everyone and let everyone hear the truth about the Big Five. It would also uncover or clear up all the mess that the Big Five’s newspapers and radio stations were trying to blanket the cover up. The “Voice” exposed the enormous profits that were being made, and compared them to the wages of the day that the workers received. The paper was printed in language that every plantation worker could understand. This put everything out in the open where everyone could see and find out about the truth. This was good for the workers but very bad for the Big Five.

Now that the truth had been exposed, it was time for the workers to organized and fight for their rights. On June 1, 1944, the ILWU appointed Jack Hall the Regional Director of Hawaii. This was the biggest and toughest job in the Islands, but with this new job, he organized the plantation field workers in a peaceful way. Jack also pointed out that the worker were being short-changed on their overtime. As a result, a $1,500,000 back pay was awarded to the workers. This is just one of the many things Jack Hall did to assure that the plantation workers were being treated fairly.

The ILWU has always been deeply concerned with education. My grandfather related to me that the ILWU wanted the workers’ children to receive the best education possible. Of primary importance was that each child receive a high school education. In order to receive a quality education, transportation was a question that needed to be addressed. Most people did not have cars to take their children from Paauhau to the school which was in Honoka’a. Those people that did own cars faced the problem of pot-holed graveled trails that were called roads. The Union provided transportation for the students to and from the camps to school.This made it possible for most plantation children to receive their quality education.



HBLSF Winner Randall D. FerminWaimea High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“ILWU: An Injury To One Is An Injury To All”

The principles and purposes of the Union is best exemplified by the Committee for Maritime Unity’s extraordinary achievement in 1946. The President of the United States at that time was Harry Truman and he successfully suppressed the railroad strike with the use of military force:  the Army. He confidently thought that if the military strategy worked before, it would work again. He was wrong.

The CMU asked the support of its union friends allover the world. International help and support poured in as quickly as requested. Workers from abroad sternly warned that if both the Army and the Navy interfered in the strike in which their presence was not welcomed, they threatened to label the ships involved as scab ships, and they would be tied up the very moment they sailed into foreign ports. The government withdrew. The ILWU, along with Harry Bridges,joyously relished the victory.


HBLSF Winner Maude Keiko Nalani SmithWaimea High School
University of Hawaii, Hilo

“The History, The Struggle, The Bloodshed, The Suffering To Organize”

In December 1942, Gamer Anthony, Attorney General of Hawaii submitted a report. This report went to Governor Ingram M. Stainback on the Army’s conduct in the courtroom.

I quote Garner Anthony’s report:
“In place of the criminal court of this Territory, there have been erected on all Islands provost courts and military commissions for the trial of all manner of offenses from the smallest misdemeanor to crimes carrying the death penalty. Trials have been conducted without regard to whether or not the subject matter is in any manner related to the prosecution of the war. These military tribunals are manned largely by Army officers without legal training. Those who may have had any training in the law seem to have forgotten all they ever knew about the subject.”

“Lawyers who appear before these tribunals are frequently treated with contempt andsuspicion. Many citizens appear without counsel; they know, generally speaking, that no matter what evidence is produced, the “trial” will result in a conviction …. Accordingly, in most cases, a plea of guilty is entered to avoid the imposition of a more severe penalty.” 




HBLSF Winner Randolph Coloma JoseFarrington High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU Paving the Way”

The ILWU continued its strong activity on the plantation and on the waterfront. At the end of World War II, the Union went into politics working for the passage of the Hawaii Employment Relations Act. The Union won a major victory in May 1945, when the Act was passed, granting agricultural workers the same rights given to industrial workers by the NLRB. Under this Act, the Union won an election in 1945 that resulted in a labor agreement for the entire sugar industry. The Union did the same in 1946, organizing labor agreements for the entire pineapple and longshore industries. Thus, the organization of Hawaii’s three most important industries helped the ILWU become one of the most powerful voices in Hawaii.

The sugar contract was the first covering agricultural workers. The result of bargaining, this contract established a framework within which bargaining would be used in the future. At the end of negotiations, the Union was successful with a new minimum wage and job classification system; however, many problems remained to be solved. More negotiations in 1946 took place but they proved to be unsuccessful thus, a strike was called that lasted 79 days. In the end, the Union members had anew, ten year contract.



HBLSF Winner Trevor N. TokishiMaui High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“With Equality For All”

The ILWU in Hawaii may well have had its beginnings in the year 1850 with the enactment of the Master’s and Servant’s Act of the Hawaii Civil Code. This law, wherein an adult could contract his services to an employer, contained clauses governing the relationship between plantation workers and planters. The very name of this law indicates the relationship that existed in the early plantation days and lasted into the twentieth centry. Its very name explains the attitude and philosophy that employers had at that time.

After completing a nine month study in 1937 for the National Labor Relation on labor conditions in Hawaii, National Labor Investigator Edward Eagan concluded, “The working people in Hawaii are more slaves than free. They have no chance to get away from their present environment.” He continued, “Those in union activity are considered undesirable. Hawaii’s workers are afraid and have reason to be.”


HBLSF Winner Annabelle TongsonH.P. Baldwin High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU: A Reflection on Hawaii’s Labor Development”

For obscure reasons, the most decisive strike the ILWU had faced was by Big Five employers. This occurred when the employers decided to force a showdown over the 1958 sugar contract, and it lasted for 179 days. The strike was named “Aloha Strike” for its good spirit and community support. In the socalled aloha strike, the Union secured a retirement program, a comprehensive medical coverage which includes members of workers’ families, and a wage increase. In essence, the ILWU brought white collar benefits to the agricultural workers.

The most concrete results of the ILWU’s persistence are the recognition of the workers rights and the more dignified labor conditions. And the social and economic upliftment of the workers and their families through job security, increased wages, a more equitable share of returns , benefits such as housing, medical, and other privileges which leads to their economic improvement.



HBLSF Winner Jason CabralLaupahoehoe High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The ILWU Story”

My parents remembered the 1958 strike because they were involved with the Union at that time. They told stories of hardship without pay but they knew it was necessary for the membership to go on strike. They were involved with the distribution of foods to the Union families in the Hamakua area. At that time, my father worked for the Kaiwiki Sugar Company in Ookala. Cooperation and understanding along with patience among the membership gave the Union strength and the unity to survive the strike, and the struggle for better wages and other essential benefits.

During the strike, there were soup kitchens set up at plantation camps to help feed the Union workers. There were over two million meals a month at an average cost of 10 cents a meal. Strikers were divided into groups, each with their assignment of tasks which ranged from growing their own vegetables to hunting and fishing parties to cooperating with small farmers in exchange for produce. Also, they did community service work around schools, playgrounds, and cleaned graveyards. There were social gatherings for strikers and their families. My parents remember during the strike, they were able to cope and enjoy whatever was given to them and were happy even though no income was coming in. They participated in the sports program, distribution of food, and other things to help the Union survive in their battle with the company. Working together as a team in the Union rank and file contributed a very harmonious atmosphere among all the membership and made the strike a worthwhile struggle and experience. This also brought the community to work together.

All other sections of the ILWU contributed to help the sugar strikers. They gave money, food, and personal assistance to show that they would help whenever the membership was in distress. With the help of the ILWU, membership had economic gains with far reaching social effects, enabling workers to send their children to high school and colleges. This gave the immigrant groups the American standard of living and providing new jobs to offset those eliminated by mechanization of the plantation. More important are the gains in human dignity on the job and in public life, and improved race relations.



HBLSF Winner Leilani AgullanaWaimea High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

” An Era of Change: The ILWU in Hawaii”

In 1948, there was a rumor that the ILWU had planned a strike against the sugar industry but decided that since 1948 was an election year, the strike should be not be called. The efforts of the Union would instead be devoted towards strengthening its control of the Democratic Party. At this time, however, charges of Communist domination of the ILWU began to be heard and ideological issues became a source of serious conflict both in labor and within the Territory.

The presence of the ILWU in the Democratic Party was embarassing to many Democrats who were afraid of the Communist label and others were resentful of the ILWU’s dominant position in the party. As a result, there was a split in the party and its effectiveness in Hawaii generally weakened. A further drop in the Union’s political stock came with the dock strike of 1949 and the increasing number of disclosures of Communism within the ILWU. On November 14, 1949, the Union announced its withdrawal from the Democratic precinct machinery, and its return to political action within the Union.


HBLSF Winner Roger Matias Jr.Kauai High School
University of Hawaii, Manoa

“The Early Years”

Hawaii, paradise, found nowhere else on this God blessed earth. Its beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and heart-warming people. In the “Early Years” it was Utopia. For the wealthy few, it was a dream come true. A chance to monopolize and get richer. However, for many laborers, it was a living hell. Ever since the arrival of the first immigrants with hopes of making it big, Hawaii’s laborers have faced numerous adversities such as the language barrier to their contracts (requiring payment for their voyage to Hawaii). With such adverse conditions, they overcame all odds. Through the development of the ILWU, the people have a backbone for support. Through time, we have seen drastic changes in Hawaii’s economy, society, and democracy.

Hawaii is probably the most liberal state in the country. Just look at all the inter-racial marriages. I am Filipino, Chinese, and Spanish.