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Labor Day Message 2012 from Executive Director Randy Perreira

September 02, 2012

Labor Day is an opportunity to reflect on the struggles of past generations who fought and sacrificed to ensure all workers were treated with fairness and dignity.Through the years, their achievements have greatly improved our quality of life, both socially and economically.  

Today, we find ourselves continuing to defend against a growing number of attacks from those who want to erode worker rights and benefits.  It would be a tremendous understatement for me to say these are troubled times for labor, particularly the public service. Whether you are a managerial employee, line staff or retiree, the challenges that public employees face are daunting and growing tougher every day.

We are seeing this happen at all levels of government – federal, state and local. What was once a cry from a limited number of people who thought government was an unnecessary evil has now become the mantra of ordinary citizens. What was once unthinkable – that citizens would seek to end collective bargaining rights, limit pay and reduce pensions for government employees – has now become reality in several states.

It’s true that our island history and culture is one of inclusiveness and taking care of one another – but we, too, have seen attempts at our legislature to reduce the compensation package for government workers and retirees, and should expect more to come. This effort to dumb down the value of government employment is Hawaii’s version of the attack on the middle class. I’m certain that many of you began their career in government because of the urging of your parents, who viewed the public service as an opportunity to make a good living and retire comfortably. Generations before ours viewed government with respect, knowing that the services provided to the community were essential and critical.

Government employees are the backbone of the state’s middle class – and we must fight to protect the services that we provide to our community.

We must work together to maintain the dignity and value of the public service, make government more efficient and sustainable for taxpayers, and retain these valuable middle class job opportunities for ourselves and future generations.

In solidarity,

Randy

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