Skip to main content

Proposals for Hawai'i - page three

Racism

Ruling elites use racism to divide and weaken workers. While racial harmony is greater in Hawai'i, where no ethnic group has majority status, than in many places, it is still a fact that certain groups, including ethnic Hawaiians, are grossly under-represented in higher education and in good jobs, but over-represented among the homeless, the unemployed, and in prison populations. The IWW recognizes that the struggles against racism, poverty and unemployment are inseparable. We welcome people from all ethnic groups in our union, and have always done so. Justice and equality for people of color are meaningless unless the harsh discrimination oppressed racial groups face in jobs and wages is addressed and reversed.

Feminism & Gay/Lesbian Rights

The IWW is nonsexist and feminist. We reject patriarchal structures, which give power on the basis of gender and literally "man-made" traditions, and recognize that women have the basic right to control their bodies, their minds and their labor. Clearly, they are as capable as men in all domains and are therefore equally valuable in transforming power relations in their societies.

In the workplace, the IWW advocates economic justice for women, whatever their jobs. In addition to women in the clerical, service, and factory sectors, the IWW seeks to support homemakers as well as sex industry and childcare workers-- women who are the most exploited and usually the least able to determine the conditions of their worklife. While mainstream unions do not consider such women "worth" organizing, the IWW feels they deserve safe working conditions and just compensation for their labor.

The IWW also respects the right of all individuals to a range of sexual orientations and supports the struggle of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Housing & the Homeless in Hawai'i

The housing crisis in Hawai'i is unnecessary. It exists because so much land is held by big estates, foreign corporations (such as hotel and golf course operators) and the US military. Housing prices and rents reflect the crazy economy they, together with multinationals and sell-out politicians, have imposed on us. It is no good looking to the state and private business to help. They are the cause of the problem, not the solution.

Wobblies support homeless people organizing to press for land, temporary accomodation and setting up their own homes through self-build housing co-ops. Where housing already exists, but people are paying unfair rents, rent strikes, and tenant group-landlord negotiations are some of the options.

Workers & the Environment

Corporate capitalism thrives on the exploitation of both people and the Earth. Hawai'i's workers have always labored long and hard on the plantations, in the hotels and elsewhere. But when the profits drop, they get laid off and left to fend for themselves like expendable commodities. Look at tourism workers when occupancy rates fall. Look at Hamakua sugar workers or Mid Pac (remember Mid Pacific Air?) or Hawaiian Airlines workers, and many others. The big corporations exploit workers when times are "good," paying them so little that many have to hold two jobs to survive, and they exploit them again when times are "bad" by firing them. The state bails out the corporations (with our taxpayers' money) when they get into trouble but never questions the right of these corporations to treat us this way. That so few workers are union members today makes the bosses' job easier. We need to unionize the unorganized, including the unemployed, resist pay cuts and other concessions-- and fight back with all the unions working together.

Not only are workers drained of their labor and the Earth's ecosystems threatened with destruction, but the relationship between the two has been insidiously reduced to a pseudo "jobs vs. the environment" conflict by the corporations, the state, mainstream media, some AFL-CIO unions, and even some corporate-sponsored environmental groups. Yet major environmental disasters-- Bhopal, Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill-- and "homegrown" problems, such as O'ahu's sewage spills, the Big Island's geothermal accidents, and Hawai'i's widespread use of pesticides, show how dangerous it is to put profits before people. These examples also demonstrate that workers are well aware that they are among the first to suffer from the destruction of the Earth. The IWW recognizes that, individually, workers have no control over the destructive policies of their employers, but collectively they can and must take control of their workplaces in order to create safe and ecologically appropriate jobs.

Hawai'i's workplace environment for agricultural, tourist industry, and office workers continues to be unjust and unhealthy. Working class communities are often the site for toxic dumps (Makua Valley, Punalu'u, Pearl City), industrial development (geothermal power plants in Puna, space ports in Ka'u and Barking Sands on Kaua'i), and golf courses/resort developments and military bases which pollute and consume the precious water supply.

Workers' control of their workplaces and cooperatives, combined with a concerted effort to decentralize our economy and eliminate destructive industries, is a practical strategy for assuring that environmentally, socially, and culturally appropriate forms of production are practiced in Hawai'i. The respect for native Hawaiian land and religious rights is integral to this process. Working people today should seek out the examples set by traditional land-based cultures who incorporate the protection and respect of the Earth as part of their own personal well-being.