Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka'ū News Briefs Monday, September 4, 2017

Japanese sugar workers in Ka'ū in the 1890s. See history of labor organizing in story below.
Photo from Hawai'i State Archives Digital Collection 
     Hawai'i's U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz tweeted: "The most important institutional counterweight to corporate power on behalf of people is organized labor. Happy Labor Day. I would like to thank the labor movement for weekends. I would like to thank the labor movement for the 40 hour work week. I would like to thank labor for standing with the resistance."
     Sen. Mazie Hirono tweeted: "This #LaborDay, we thank the generations of workers who laid the foundation for the middle class and basic rights that we all enjoy."

Hutchinson was one of the early sugar companies in Ka'ū to
import contract laborers from China and elsewhere. 
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LABORERS IMMIGRATING TO KA'Ū to work in the sugar industry are tied into the multiethnic histories of most longtime Ka'ū families. These immigrants started in sugar, organized labor for better pay and housing, and many went off on their own to create their own enterprises, such as Ka'ū Coffee farms and also to seek higher education for themselves and their
     The history of plantation labor organizing throughout the Hawaiian Islands is summarized by University of Hawai'i's online Hawai'i Digital Newspaper Project as the following:
1840s: In the earliest strikes, plantation workers protested the poor pay and living conditions.
Women working at Na`alehu Mill.
Bullocks were an early transportation mode.

June 21, 1850: The Masters and Servants Act was enacted. This new law legalized apprentice-ships, indentured service, the contract-labor system, and large importation of workers. Under this law, a laborer who has absenteeism issues or leaves a position before the contract’s end could be captured by “coercive force” by employers and face strict punishments. They included working extra hours beyond the time specified in the work contract (usually twice the original contract period) and serving a prison sentence and perform hard labor there. Workers could not organize labor unions or go on strike.
Hutchinson helped establish Nā'ālehu.
The metal safe where it stored money
remains in the Ace Hardware
building today.
1851: Sugar plantation laborers organized the Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Society and went on strike. However, because the sugar plantation owners could easily hire replacement laborers from the surplus of imported labor, this strike failed.

1852: Workers started immigrating from other countries to work in the plantations, starting with the Chinese.
On January 3, 1852: 175 Chinese workers arrived on the ship Thetis. Eventually, other ethnic groups would work in the plantations, including the Portuguese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Spaniards, Russians, and Norwegians. This extreme globalization contributed to the multiculturalism of Hawai'i and the Hawai'i Creole English, or “Pidgin.”

1857: Sugar plantation laborers organized the Hawaiian Mechanics Benefit Union. However, they failed because the sugar plantation owners hired replacement laborers.

Trains were one of the many modes of transportation
used to haul sugar in Ka'ū.
June 14, 1900: Under the Organic Act, Hawai'i became an American Territorial government. Citizens of the Republic of Hawai'i automatically became American citizens of the Territory of Hawai'i. Consequently, the contract labor system became illegal. Within a month, 8,000 laborers went on strike for better pay and working conditions and the employment of Japanese luna (supervisors).

Early 1900s: New unions formed, including the Federation of Japanese Labor, Carpenters Local 745, American Association of Masters, Mates and Pilots, the Longshoremen, and the Filipino Labor Union.
The Honu'apo Mill, mauka of the Ka'ū Coast, which is now preserved
as the Honu'apo and Whittington Beach Parks.
1920: In the O'ahu sugar strike of 1920, the Japanese and Filipino laborers went on strike together for six months on four major Hawaiian islands. The first inter-ethnic collaboration in Hawai'i demonstrated the importance of organizing by class-based solidarity rather than by ethnicity. They fought for a pay increase and improvement in the bonus system. One of the largest strikes yet, this strike strengthened the growers association and led to the start of a primitive social welfare program, which mitigated some negative aspects of plantation life.

1924: Around 13,000 Filipino sugar laborers went on strike. During the failed eight-month strike, the picket-line violence killed 16 workers and four police officers in the “Hanapepe massacre.” Afterwards, the Territory of Hawai'i did not have the money needed to prosecute the strikers, so the HSPA gave money to conduct the court cases. Sixty of the sixty-six strikers received prison sentences, many of them for four years. Afterwards, at Washington, D.C., the plantations lobbied for loosening legal restrictions on immigration. Uncomfortable about the developing relationship between the Japanese and Filipino workers, they wanted to import workers from many countries and prevent worker solidarity.

Margaret Ann Cabudol, (left) a labor leader in Ka'ū, and Emia
Peralta on the day the last load of cane was carried to
Ka'ū sugar mill in 1996.
Photo by Dennis Oda, Honolulu Star Bulletin
1946: Before 1946, in Hawai'i, the Big Five, a sugar oligarchy with five companies, controlled the prices of goods and services, politics, social structure, and employment. The 1946 sugar strike challenged this social structure. Laborers realized all ethnicities must collaborate in an organized effort. Thus, labor leaders, mostly from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, coordinated this collaboration, which protested low pay, poor working conditions, and racial
segregation. For 79 days, 21,100 laborers struck at 33 out of the 34 largest plantations, shutting down the sugar industry. Because the sugar cane dried up on O'ahu, the Big Five sugar companies lost about $15 million. The employers had to concede to the laborers’ demands, and the laborers went from the lowest to the highest-paid agricultural laborers in the United States. This victory allowed the laborers to finally exert leverage in negotiation compensation and paved the way
for other laborers to strike, concludes the review by the Hawai'i Digital Newspaper Project.
     With high pay for its workers and international competition in the sugar industry, the sugar companies across Hawai'i began shutting down in the 1970s. In 1996, Ka'ū Sugar was the last sugar operation on Hawai'i Island to close its mill and leave its fields. Workers turned to developing the famed Ka'ū Coffee industry and other employment throughout the district. Local people purchased the plantation owned homes and renovated. Home ownership skyrocketed in the neighborhoods in Ka'ū that were formerly owned by sugar plantations.
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Ka'ū Sugar truck joins in parades to honor the history of
labor that built the Ka'ū community. Photo by Julia Neal
LABOR DAY WAS CREATED TO CELEBRATE AMERICAN WORKERS, notes the non-partisan Aspen Institute, the organization that years ago created programs at the A-Frame buildings at Punalu'u, now used by the 'O Ka'ū Kakou community association.
     In a statement released today, the Institute, based in Washington, D.C., New York and Aspen, Colorado, states that Labor Day honors "American workers, who have powered our nation's success with their entrepreneurial spirit, ambition, and work ethic. For many families, it is also the mile-marker between summer and the school year."
     The Aspen Institute sated this about employment challenges: "When thinking about how to help low- and moderate-income families succeed, many have turned to fixing the education system, aiming to equip workers with skills to get good jobs. Education and skills are important, but we need more to solve the challenges that face today's working families. There are simply not enough good jobs to go around, and no amount of education will fix that systemic problem. Additionally, without good jobs, families lack the income and wealth to support their children's education.
     "To support working families, we need to think beyond training and education. We need to advance systemic changes that increase access to and availability of good jobs."
Pick up the September edition of The Ka'ū Calendar delivered
free to 5,500 mailboxes throughout Ka'ū, from Miloli'i 
through Volcano. Also available on stands throughout
the district. See it online at kaucalendar.com
     Aspen Institute operates the Economic Opportunities Program to work on job quality on many fronts. It is launching a Job Quality Fellowship, to advance the work of thought and action leaders engaged in efforts to improve job quality in the United States. In collaboration with the New World Foundation and FHLBankSF, Aspen institute is developing and implementing an evaluation and learning program for the Quality Jobs Fund. The organization aims to advance critical conversations, exploring what makes a good job and the challenges workers, at its Aspen Ideas Festival, Working in America events, and the annual Economic Security Summit, part of Reconnecting Work and Wealth, a joint initiative with the Financial Security Program. See more on strategizing for more good jobs at aspeninstitute.org.
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KA'Ū COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN will be considered for adoption at the Hawai'i County Council Planning Committee's next meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 9:15 a.m. The Planning Committee Agenda can be found at hawaiicounty.granicus.com/viewpublisher.php?view_id=1 and the Ka'ū CDP Steering Committee agenda can be found at:hawaiicountycdp.info/kau-cdp/steering-committee/steering-commitee-meetings/september-6-2017.

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Girls Volleyball: Wednesday, Sept. 6, Ka'ū vs. Waiakea, away game.
Friday, Sept. 8, Ka'ū vs. St. Joseph, away game.
Eight-Man Football: Saturday, Sept. 9, Ka'ū vs. Lana'i, away game.
Cross Country: Saturday, Sept. 9, Ka'ū vs. Kamehameha, away game.
Bowling: Saturday, Sept. 9, Ka'ū vs. Hilo & Konawaena at Kona Bowl.

REGISTER KEIKI FOR SUNFLOWER CRAFT until Sept. 15. The craft class, for keiki ages 6 to 14, will take place on Monday, Sept. 18, at Kahuku Park from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 929-9113 for more.

KA'Ū COFFEE GROWERS COOPERATIVE MEETS TUESDAY, Sept. 5, from 6 pm. to 8 p.m., at the Pāhala Community Center.

Register by Sept. 11, 2017.
For more details, see the Ka'ū News Briefs from Aug. 30, 2017.
HAWAI'I COUNTY COUNCIL MEETS Wednesday, Sept. 6, and Thursday, Sept. 7. Ka‘ū residents can participate via videoconferencing at Nā‘ālehu State Office Building. Agendas can be found at hawaiicounty.gov.

OCEAN VIEW NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH MEETS Thursday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m., at the Ocean View Community Center. For more details call 939-2442 or 928-2015.

PANCAKE BREAKFAST AT OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more details, call 939-7033.

ATLAS RECYCLING WILL COLLECTING AT SOUTH POINT U-CART on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

BIRTH OF KAHUKU a free hike within the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is offered on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Explore the rich geologic history of Kahuku on this easy-to-moderate hike that traverses the vast 1868 lava flow, with different volcano features and formations. Learn about the Hawaiian hotspot and the creation of Kahuku. Visit nps.gov/HAVO for more details.

ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENT PLAYERS, DRUMMERS, SINGERS AND DANCERS ARE WELCOMED for Kanikapila, on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Nā‘ālehu Methodist Church Hall. For more call Desmond at 937-6305.

REGISTER 5TH GRADE GIRLS FOR GEMS BY SEPT. 15. Ka‘ū fifth grade girls are invited to start registering for GEMS, Girls Exploring Math and Science. The annual all day event has been set for the Crown Marriot King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel for Nov. 9.
     Registration is on a first come, first served basis, and space is limited. Registration fee is $20 and scholarships are available. No girl will be turned away because of financial need.
     All fifth grade girls residing in the West Hawai‘i School complex in public, private, or home-schooled are welcome. Sponsorship of girls by individuals or businesses will be accepted. For more information about GEMS, to sponsor a girl, or to request a registration packet, contact Cindy Armer, GEMS chairperson at cbarmer@hotmail.com or 808-896-7180. Remember GEMS registration form must be postmarked by 9-15-17. See more details on Ka'ū News Briefs from August 15, 2017.

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