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American workers deserve a mahalo

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the date to celebrate a "working men's holiday." The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations.

As we mark the 121st anniversary of this holiday in Hawaii and across our nation, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the economic and civic significance of trade and labor organizations in our com- munity.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom and leadership, the American worker.

As you celebrate Labor Day with friends, family members and co-workers, take time to appreciate working men and women around the world and the many sacrifices and contributions they make to our communities.

Linda Lingle
James "Duke" R. Aiona
Lt. Governor

Downtown life is nicer sans TheBus

Four good things about the bus strike:

>> Improved traffic: Non-rush hour traffic is much improved. Buses constantly disrupt traffic flow, particularly downtown and on the Pali Highway.

>> No running red lights: I have not had to worry about being clipped by a bus running a light in the downtown area.

>> No riff-raff: Congregations of old men leering at women at many bus stops have virtually vanished. Downtown Longs a prime example.

>> No psssst.: The airbrake sound of TheBus when passing a woman on the street. Funny, only those buses with male drivers seem to emit such love calls!

I hope the bus drivers stay out forever!

T. J. Pochinski

Bus drivers are well-paid, just look ...

Regarding the salary and benefits of city bus drivers:

After five years, their salary and benefits include:

>> Pay: $44,000 per year

>> Health care insurance: $5,640 per year (100 percent paid premiums)

>> Pension: $6,650 per year

>> Vacation & sick leave: $6,125 per year

>> Paid holidays: $2,300 per year

>> Total compensation package: $64,715

Source: (First, click on Union Negotiations Update, then click on Current Contract Provisions)

This is just for those employed for five years! Half the transit employees have been employed 10 years or more and many have been there more than 20 years. So the package is even higher than that and they're striking for more money. Aren't they just a little bit greedy?

Bruce Wong

Union leader has eye on re-election

As an employee of TheBus and the spouse of a bus driver, I have a comment regarding the bus strike.

There's a piece of the puzzle missing in these negotiations that the public doesn't know, and perhaps the Teamsters bus employees forgot. Next month is the Teamsters Union election of officers. I strongly believe that Mel Kahele's actions to continue the bus strike have been politically motivated toward his re-election.

I say this because any experienced labor leader would have continued talking and attending all scheduled negotiations with the sole intent to reach an agreement without a strike. Mel did not do this!

You don't hold off negotiation sessions, weeks apart, with the threat of a strike looming, while keeping the members in the dark.

You don't walk into negotiations unprepared and unwilling to discuss proposals.

You don't take a break from negotiations claiming that you'll be back in 10 minutes, and come back 10 hours later, with nothing in hand.

You don't publicly say that wages are not the issue, and then turn around and propose wage and pension increases. Not only is this bad faith bargaining, but now the union has lost any credibility it may have had to lock in an agreement and get the strikers back to work.

These have all been Kahele's actions during these talks, which confirms to me that he doesn't care about the needs of the public, and is using his members in hopes to gain him votes in the upcoming election.

I hope the bus employees look at this seriously and ask themselves, why are we really out here since Mel already agreed to no changes in the contract in the first year and no take backs? He should have us all back working and continue negotiating the last two years or agree to a one-year deal.

Is Mel representing our needs and interests, or his own?

Carol Ohelo
TheBus, clerical worker

Rapid transit funds can't bail out TheBus

There are people who think that construction funds for the Bus Rapid Transit system should be used for operating buses. However, construction funds cannot by law be used for operating expenses.

Funding for construction of the BRT's initial segment is already in place. It comes out of the Capital Improvement Program budget, which was approved by the City Council in 2002. An additional $20 million in federal matching funds are available for BRT. This is federal money for construction that wouldn't come to Hawaii otherwise. The CIP and federal dollars are for construction costs -- the "sticks, bricks and mortar" -- whereas salaries and benefits for bus drivers come out of the operating budget and cash box fares. Federal law and city mandates do not allow us to shuffle between these two separate budgets.

BRT is a project that addresses future growth and mobility for our city. Transport- ation planning is about developing long-range plans today to improve mobility in the future. BRT is a plan to improve public transit during the next 20 years.

It is easy for critics to complain and criticize, however they have yet to produce viable solutions to our ever-growing traffic problem. We believe that doing nothing about it is simply irresponsible.

Carol Costa
Director, Department of Customer Services
City & County of Honolulu

Other solutions exist besides closing parks

I understand that folks want to close the parks from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to curb the drug dealers and addicts. While I understand that noise can be a factor is some areas, let us look at the fact that if we had structured prevention activities in some areas, such as midnight basketball leagues, we might be able to curb the problems now facing many of our youth.

Funny, isn't it, how one person's glass is half-full and another's is half-empty. Let's look at our parks as a resource and not a problem.

Claire Woods

Court monument story overblown by Fox TV

I am dismayed by the would-be religious show at the court house in Alabama. Fox News spent hours covering an event during the 40th commemoration of the March on Washington in the failed and illogical belief that the issue of a rock monument removal and the subsequent controversy is the same as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s and Rosa Parks' fight for racial justice.

There is no comparison. We are not segregating, impoverishing or lynching rocks. If anything the prostrate bodies outside of the Alabama court house speak of idol worship. I believe that the 10 Commandments tells Christians to avoid that behavior.

Juliet Begley

Why does state recruit mainland teachers?

I am a teacher and the frustrated mother of a prospective teacher. We were anxiously awaiting a job offer every day since graduation day at the University of Hawaii's Hilo campus. Hopes were high since there were only a few who graduated in education, and the news at the time seemed to be a teacher shortage.

Optimism has since left the few education graduates when they discovered that the jobs they were waiting for had been filled by mainland recruits. It seems that the Department of Education could have done its homework and checked how many additional jobs there were after checking on the number of graduates from the College of Education.

If Hawaii has budget concerns, why are we spending additional money to lure people for jobs that could be given to those who have chosen to give back to their own state? The message from the DOE to our youth and our university system seems be that we need teachers but not from Hawaii.

Since the school year has already begun, it is probably too bad that we didn't know about this sooner. But Hawaii needs to know that we are spending additional money for mainland recruits while our locals are jobless.

Ann Tonaki


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