UPDATED 8/9/11 12:48 p.m.
On the same day that Hawaii teachers will try to get their pay cuts and health benefits restored, the man who imposed the contract terms will address a politically powerful national labor union in Las Vegas.
The purpose of the union’s convention? Protection of the collective bargaining process.
UPDATE And yet, Abercrombie is scheduled to address the United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and HVAC Service Techs Wednesday afternoon Vegas-time. The governor maintains that implementation of the state’s “last, best and final offer” is part of the collective bargaining process.
The union, known as the United Association, or UA, is holding a convention this week at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.
As stated in a press release, members will hear resolutions “calling for support of workers fighting to protect the integrity of the collective bargaining process … anti-union politicians are doing the bidding of … corporations and special interest groups by initiating legislation aimed at taking away collective bargaining rights,” of public and private sector workers.
The timing of Abercrombie’s trip is awkward. Here at home, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board will hold a public hearing Wednesday morning on a request by the HSTA to reinstate wages and benefits to pre-July 1 levels.
Asked about the trip — given the ongoing dispute with the HSTA and talk of a strike from the United Public Workers — Abercrombie press secretary Donalyn Dela Cruz said Tuesday in an email, “This was a previously planned vacation trip.”
The United Association convention is no small matter. The union represents 347,000 members in more than 300 local unions across the United States and Canada.
The union’s website features multiple photos and statements from political leaders, from President Barack Obama on down to state legislators. It closely tracks congressional legislation and links to CNN’s Political Ticker.
That political inclination extends to United Association’s Facebook page. Here’s a recent post:
Local 434 gets a shout out on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC for letting the grassroots labor group, We are Wisconsin, use their facility in La Crosse, Wisconsin after their building burnt down. If you live in Wisconsin, remember to vote in the recall elections on August 9th. Fight back against the anti-union agenda! Support those candidates that support the UA!
While in Vegas, Hawaii’s governor will be sharing the same dais as some very influential national Democrats.
Convention speakers this year include political strategist James Carville, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CNN commentator Donna Brazile and Barack Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina “as well as members of Congress, governors and industry figures,” according to the press release.
Public-sector unions across the country are under attack from cash-strapped states, and the future of collective bargaining is a top concern.
To that end, the main focus of the United Association’s convention is protection of the cherished right. According to the press release:
A strongly worded resolution notes that workers from every sector of the economy have banded together in “a moving show of solidarity” in support of the right to bargain, as well as the right to fair wages, benefits and working conditions that allow workers to provide for their families.
Collective bargaining is a cherished right by local unions, too.