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Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is an anti-union Democrat running for U.S. Senate in Hawai`i – one of the nation’s strongest labor states.

She’s advanced in politics thanks to generous corporate funders (especially the defense industry) and an anti-union media in Honolulu that characterizes anti-labor elected officials as “reformers.”

She made her mark in Hawaii’s state legislature as a “renegade” Democrat (e.g. Democrat in name only) who championed cuts to wages and benefits for public employees, as reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (“Hanabusa bucked the will of labor unions to push for civil service reform”):

In this case “civil service reform” means screwing public workers out of their wages and benefits.

After being elected to Congress in 2010, Hanabusa voted for “free trade” with Korea (the KORUS agreement – which labor opposed) and proudly trumpeted her role in its passage.

KORUS was even opposed by the labor movement in South Korea.

KORUS was also opposed by the labor movement in the U.S., notably including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which has a large presence in Hawai`i.

Hanabusa is a leader of the New Democrat Coalition (chairing its National Security Task Force).  The New Dems are currently lobbying for the largest trade deals in history, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Partnership.  Labor groups, including ILWU, vehemently oppose these.

Thankfully, Hawai`i labor unions are paying attention. The state’s largest union, the Hawai`i Government Employees Association, has endorsed incumbent Senator Brian Schatz over Hanabusa.

Indeed, more than 20 unions have endorsed Schatz.

None have endorsed Hanabusa. The ILWU is one of the few major unions that hasn’t yet weighed in on the race.

Despite National ILWU's opposition to the trade agreements that Hanabusa so loves, it will be interesting to see if a certain Maui ILWU business manager's personal war on the environment will influence ILWU's endorsement decision toward her or whether common sense will prevail and ILWU will endorse pro-labor, Brian Schatz as the other unions have.

Hanabusa has probably gone as far as she can with an anti-labor record in a pro-labor state. There’s even speculation in Hawai`i that she may have killed her political career by leaving her safe House seat to go after the incumbent senator.  If Hanabusa's next fundraising total is as lackluster as her previous and Schatz's totals continue to soar, she may decide to drop her Senate attempt and keep her House seat.

Originally posted to Karen from Maui on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.


Do you think Hanabusa will drop out of the Senate race after next quarter's fundraising totals are revealed?

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| 40 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yeah, that signaled the end of my contributions (13+ / 0-)

    to Emily's List. I'm tired of them picking women who aren't as good as some men on the issues. It was a good idea and has outlived its time. I hope Schatz can hold onto the seat.

  •  She has a lifetime 94% rating from AFL-CIO... (3+ / 0-) of the end of 2012.

    The KORUS Agreement was literally the only AFL-CIO scored vote in 2011 where she voted against Labor. The other 28 times the AFL-CIO scored a vote--from project labor agreements to protecting Davis-Bacon and collective bargaining rights for federal employees and contractors to better methods for deciding union elections to the other two FTAs that passed that year--she voted with working families.

    Schatz may well be the better candidate, but attacking Hanabusa as "anti-Labor" is just wrong. She's been a pretty steady supporter for unions, at least at the federal level. I can clearly see the argument that she's being opposed by Labor: I don't see a good case that she's opposed to Labor, especially not to the degree that justifies calling her "anti-Labor."

    "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

    by JR on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:34:46 PM PDT

    •  Here, here! nt (0+ / 0-)

      "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

      by Uncle Moji on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 06:40:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  she's supporting MORE trade agreements (0+ / 0-)

      I'm betting this year's labor score will be significantly downgraded.

      Take a look at the New Dem Coalition's positions on dealing away the social safety net and their hardline support for "Free Trade" aka outsourced our jobs.  It is hard to maintain that Hanabusa is pro labor in the face of her organization's positions.

      •  Guilt by association? That's the basis? (0+ / 0-)

        If you have to actively ignore someone's actual record to make your attack, your attack sucks.

        "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

        by JR on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 12:03:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you join a conservative organization (0+ / 0-)

          If you join a conservative organization and people call you "conservative" is that "guilt by association" or just a big "DUH"

        •  Here's Hanabusa's record (0+ / 0-)

          Voted with the GOP for the "Regulatory Relief Act" aka roll back EPA pollution control laws for power plants and boilers

          Her campaign chairman contributes to the Republican party:

          She refused to over-rule Gov Lingle's veto of morning after pill for rape victims even though she had an overwhelming majority Dems when she was state senate President.

          She worked with Gov Lingle (R) to exempt a huge, controversial corporate welfare project (the Superferry) from Hawaii environmental law.  Not only did she give it money but after the Hawaii Supreme Court found that the Superferry was operating illegally by not abiding by environmental law, she crafted and pushed through a law exempting THAT ONE BUSINESS from environmental requirements -- which was ALSO ruled unconstitutional.

          She is pressing for the largest "free trade" bills every and voted prior to that for another one.  Labor warns this is outsource heaven that will put even more downward pressure on wages.

          She voted for the FISA renewal (no other Hawai'i congressperson did)

          How much evidence do you need?

          •  More than that to call her anti-Labor (0+ / 0-)

            You're laying out a good argument against voting for her. You've still failed to justify how someone who has a 90%+ AFL-CIO record, who supports Davis-Bacon, who supports PLAs, who supports collective bargaining rights, who supports retirement security, who supports jobs and infrastructure bills, and who defeated major conservadem Ed Case, should be considered anti-Labor.

            From my perspective, she's one of our allies. Not being a perfect voter doesn't make her an enemy, and demanding absolute purity from our friends is a good way to lose them.

            "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

            by JR on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 06:34:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK. Not anti-labor. PRO-Corporation (0+ / 0-)

              As I said above, I'll concede that point that I went for a snappy headline and that I should have said something like:  

              "Not so great on labor", or

              "lets labor down sometimes" or

              "votes for the trade agreements that labor abhors and which outsource our jobs"

  •  Labeling Hanabusa as "anti-labor" (0+ / 0-)

    may fly on this blog on the mainland, but won't fly at home.  It will get Brian some donations, but it won't gain any votes that matter.

    Frankly, Brian IS a better candidate, he is more progressive, and should win, but it is unfair and untruthful to label Hanabusa some kind of Sarah Palin.  She's not.  She's just not as progressive as Brian is.  Taking this kind of approach to attacking Hanabusa isn't right.  

    Brian has to convince the large and silent group of older local non-haole voters that he can understand and stand for their issues.  He's the transplant town kid from Punahou (as I once was, and as, arguably, the most popular politician in Hawai'i is, Barack Obama), and she's the sansei descendant of plantation workers from Wai'anae.  

    Oddly, Brian wasn't helped by Abercrombie on this, because it seems Neil double crossed Hanabusa, went against the wishes of the late Senator and his widow, and filled the seat with a young "malahini" white guy who hadn't earned his bones.  

    I hope Schantz wins, but he has to win for, not win against.

    Good luck.

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 07:01:16 AM PDT

    •  double crossed?!!? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure where that came from!

      Abercrombie did not bow down and obey Inouye's royal decree. The majority of us applauded him for that.

      •  The majority of whom? (0+ / 0-)

        I am no fan of Dan Inouye.  I supported Obama in 2008.  I am no fan of Hanabusa.  She is in the Clinton/Inouye wing of the party, and not my wing of the party.  But to claim that there was no expectation that Hanabusa was a front-runner for the appointment is disingenuous.

        And if the "majority of us" applauded Neil for appointing Brian over Colleen, I guess the election will be the test.

        What I find difficult when talking about politics in this context is that partisans resort to overstatement that weakens the thrust of their argument.   Your "Hanabusa is anti-Labor" remains an overstatement.  She is opposed by labor in this contest, that is true, and would be a better basis for your diary.  

        She's not anti-labor, she's not as pro-labor as some of us would like.

        "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

        by Uncle Moji on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 09:33:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a fair criticism (0+ / 0-)

          You are right - I should have said that she'll support labor as long as it suits her political ambitions but that she has a conservative pro-corporate streak that allows her to do things like belong to the New Dems who say "We're ready to deal. Everything is on the table." (Presumably this includes Social Security and Medicare)

          And the New Dems are pushing all these trade treaties that labor abhors and which Hanabusa favors.

    •  Hanabusa CAMPAIGNS on her ANTI-labor creds (0+ / 0-)

      "I have proven my independence by challenging the status quo in areas such as civil service reform":

      In the state senate, she was part of a bloc of five senators who were anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-labor:

      Hanabusa worked for Laborers union in defending a secret contract that shut out most of a refuse company's workers from receiving the same benefits.

      Check out this story on the strange union contract.

      One of the state’s largest refuse disposal firms signed a labor contract making it a “union shop” but didn’t tell its workers for more than 17 years, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

      The labor contract between Honolulu Disposal Service, Inc. and the Laborers’ International Union Local 368 was renewed and updated five times between 1979 and 1996, but they “failed or refused to inform” most employees of its existence, the suit says.

      “It’s mind-boggling,” said Honolulu attorney Jim Bickerton, who filed the suit along with co-counsel Barry Sullivan.

      Although the company signed a full contract with the union, they later CLAIMED TO HAVE A SIDE DEAL, an oral agreement that only a handful of workers would receive the union benefits.

      The deal didn’t become known until another union moved to organize the company’s employees and the company stepped forward to say that they already had a union.

      Hanabusa represented the Laborers Union and its attempts to DEFEND the secret contract.

      - See more at:

      •  Although this is more corruption than anti-labor (0+ / 0-)
        •  Hanabusa is a lawyer! (0+ / 0-)

          Her job is to represent her client.  The issue it seems is with the union, and the union should be sued.  

          That management signed a contract with a union, and the union engaged in unfair or unlawful practices  vis a vis its members is a different story. Unless you are asserting that Hanabusa herself engaged in an illegal practice for which she should be disbarred or charged, which is, in itself, an potentially actionable claim.

          And a "side deal" that is "oral" is peculiar. Side letters are common and part and parcel of labor contracts, no one I know of, as an operating matter would have what would be labeled a "side deal" of this nature.  We often have "handshake" understandings, but everyone understands that they have little to no weight under that law because the contracts are governed by a written agreement - which is why "side letters" are letters, so they are on paper.

          Hanabusa should be opposed for many reasons, but the tack you have taken, I think, is not the most persuasive.

          "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

          by Uncle Moji on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 09:43:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Schatz is one of the best candidates I've seen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karen from Maui

    on any level. He told a NN13 panel that he would make climate his 1st priority and that we all need to do the same. He's extraordinarily smart, and he's young.

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