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POSTED: Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pressure is on over unionization bill

The lobbying is starting for and against a bill to permit unions to organize workers in large companies without holding a secret balloting process.

Yesterday, the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce marshaled 130 representatives of business organizations to lobby legislators, asking them not to override a veto of a so-called “;card check”; bill, House Bill 952.

Jim Tollefson, chamber president, said the bill “;would take away the secret ballot process,”; making it easier to unionize businesses. He noted that it appears aimed at large agricultural businesses in the state with annual sales of more than $5 million.

“;If this went through, Hawaii would be the first state in the nation with this kind of legislation,”; Tollefson said.

Meanwhile the ILWU was also distributing letters to lawmakers yesterday, urging them to override a veto if Lingle rejects the bill.

She vetoed the bill last year, and the Legislature did not act to override her veto.

Former couple faces deportation

A former husband and wife, who now have other spouses, are facing deportation because they allegedly assumed false identities to enter the country as a married couple more than 10 years ago.

Federal authorities arrested yesterday Virgilio Corpuz, 62, and Erlinda Lictawa Valdez, 61, for immigration, Social Security and passport fraud.

The pair faces 10 years in prison for the immigration and passport fraud and five years for the Social Security fraud.

Immigration officials said Corpuz entered the United States from the Philippines in 1987 by impersonating his dead brother. He later obtained permanent resident status and U.S citizenship under his brother's name.

Valdez entered the country with two of the couple's three children in 1995 by impersonating the wife of her husband's dead brother, immigration officials said. After the couple divorced, Valdez obtained permanent resident status and U.S. citizenship under the false identity.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Hino said in court yesterday Corpuz and Valdez are cooperating.

Part-time islander missing in Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colo. >> Emergency and rescue crews are looking for a part-time Hawaii resident who appears to have been swept away on a motorcycle found in the Cache la Poudre River in Colorado.

The Larimer County sheriff's office says a witness reported seeing a person riding a motorcycle in Poudre Canyon at about 2 p.m. yesterday crash and go under a guardrail and into the river. The person wasn't able to find the rider.

Authorities say the motorcycle's owner reported that his 60-year-old father, who lives in Hawaii and Missouri, borrowed the bike yesterday morning. The man's name was not released.

Crews planned to look for the rider until nightfall.

NEIGHBOR ISLANDS

Plum harvest starts Sunday in Kauai park

Plum harvest season begins Sunday in Kokee State Park on Kauai, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The state described the plum crop this year as “;fairly good.”;

Plum pickers must have a permit, which are free and available at Kokee State Park Headquarters.

Permit forms must be completed and dropped in a drop-box after harvesting.

Each person is allowed to take up to 5 pounds of plums per day for personal consumption.

Harvesting is allowed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., in designated areas through Aug. 16.

Pickers are reminded to help prevent forest fires and pick up their litter.

For information call 274-3445.