This morning, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the United Public Workers union (UPW) was fined over $5,000 for matters related to UPW's firing of two UPW employees for their refusal to “donate” and "volunteer" for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's 2010 congressional campaign. When asked if Hanabusa would return the money and campaign support she received from UPW as a result of this disgusting practice. Hanabusa said she doesn't condone the practice, but will gladly continue to accept all the money and political help that comes from it. That's like saying it's wrong to force people to work in a sweat shop, and then turn around and buy the shirt made from sweat shop labor.
Firing an employee for refusing to "donate" and "volunteer" for a political campaign is a repulsive, but all too common practice in local politics. This is how the political establishment works in Hawaii, and Colleen Hanabusa is a direct beneficiary of this disgusting practice.
Our campaign is different. We would never accept campaign contributions from anyone forced to "donate" or "volunteer" to us under threat of losing their job. Please help us level the playing field and consider making a personal contribution to help us fight back. Your contribution of $25, $50, $250 or any amount up to the legal limit of $2500 will help us battle the old boy establishment. There are only 40 days before the general election, and we need your help now more than ever.
A select group in this State control all of the levers of power. They will do anything to keep that power -- even if it means firing employees who refuse to do their bidding. They don't care that people have families, mortgages, and some are barely able to survive in this tough economy. All they care about is holding onto power. And, that select group and their supporters believe it's so important to elect Hanabusa, that they are willing to go to disgusting lengths to make sure Hanabusa is in office. You have to ask yourself why. What will Hanabusa do for them in exchange?
We will never stoop to the low levels that our opponent and her supporters are willing to go to win. But we need your help. Please tell your family and friends why it's so important to participate in this election and make sure they vote, put a bumper sticker on your car, a yard sign in your home or business, or make a donation so that we can continue to keep our television commercials on air.
Only by standing up together, and fighting back today, will we be able to bring the change we need.
P.S. - Mahalo in advance for your donation of $25, $50 or any amount up to $2500 to help us fight back. We need your help now more than ever.
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RELATED: Feds Fine UPW For Illegal Hanabusa Campaigning
SA: The UPW's penalty stemmed from a complaint filed by Georgette Yaindl, a staff attorney for the blue-collar union who was fired in April 2010. Yaindl, an at-will employee, said she was not given a reason for her termination, but she alleged she was fired because she would not participate in political activity to help Hanabusa, a Democrat whom UPW had endorsed for a special election in May 2010.
Yaindl described a mandatory April 2010 staff meeting where Dayton Nakanelua, the UPW's state director, and Clifford "Chip" Uwaine, his executive assistant, explained that the union's roughly 40 employees would be expected to sign-wave for Hanabusa after work on Fridays, telephone-bank for Hanabusa during weekday evenings, canvass door-to-door for Hanabusa on Saturday mornings, and make financial contributions to Hanabusa's campaign. Nakanelua, Yaindl said, told employees who needed an exemption from the political activities to "come see" him.
Yaindl said she complained, both verbally at the meeting and afterward in a written memo to Nakanelua, that it was inappropriate to require employees to forgo other commitments to perform volunteer work. She said she never heard back from Nakanelua or Uwaine about her complaints, but was soon fired.
UPW's attorneys acknowledged that employees were strongly urged to help with sign-waving, phone banking and canvassing for Hanabusa, but not to make financial contributions. The union said it did not make the political activity "absolute conditions of employment," although the union believes it can set such requirements under the law.
"If UPW or any other union cannot direct its staff to engage in campaigning such as sign waving, phone banking and canvassing, the unions are essentially unable to get out the message of which candidates are good for labor and such a bar would ‘suppress' that speech altogether," union attorneys Rebecca Covert and Herbert Takahashi argued in a brief, citing the Citizens United ruling.
Yaindl and another UPW employee fired on the same day — Terry Lau, a union lobbyist — were offered their jobs back, although both declined. Yaindl said she voted for Hanabusa in the special election.
A divided six-member FEC did not pursue a coercion complaint against the UPW, but ultimately found that the union failed to report $26,260 for two radio advertisements on behalf of Hanabusa and $14,231 spent on employee campaign activities. The UPW explained the lack of disclosure as "a good-faith mistake" and agreed to the $5,500 penalty….
At a Hawaii Public Radio debate on Tuesday night, Djou challenged Hanabusa to repudiate the UPW's practices and to refuse to accept money from the UPW or other unions that adopt such practices.
"This is what's wrong. This is what needs to change — having a union going forward and telling people you must support a political candidate, whether or not you like them, or get fired, is wrong," he said.
read … Union workers' role in elections a thorny issue
August 25, 2012: UPW Fires Employees for Refusing to Contribute to Hanabusa