1979: Ida Kanekoa Milles

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Ida Kanekoa Milles was born in Nahiku Village, Maui on May 4, 1913.   At age 14 she went to work as a maid for a haole family, marrying John Milles the following year and having the first of her seven children.  After WW II started, the family moved to Honolulu, and in 1946, Ida became a trimmer at Hawaiian Pine Company.  She worked during the strike but left after.  She returned the following year and retired in 1975.  

IM: I started work 1946. In the beginning, the name was Hawaiian Pine. It wasn't Dole. I went to the employment office and Moon Chang was the person that hires whoever wants to work in the cannery. Well, when I went there, he hired me as a trimmer.

MK: Why did you decide to work at that time?

IM: My last job was at Kauluwela School. I wasn't happy working there, so I quit. I met some friends. They said, because cannery had lot of women you get associate and you have a lot of fun.   That's the reason why I went work to the cannery.

MK: I want to ask you what you did during the first pineapple strike in 1947. Can you tell me what happened?

IM: In 1947 then they start, I didn't know anything. We were walking to work--my daughter and l--and we met a friend of ours. She was in the union. She pass us, she didn't say anything. Reach at the cannery, we didn’t cross the street, we seen this picket line. We stand and wonder, What is this. Then the foreman comes across and call out, "Who wants to work?” "Yeah, I want to go work." My daughter and I step in, we went  they took us through the line. They didn't do anything. I went in, my daughter and I, oh, was really a jam.

MK: Why do you say it was a jam?

IM: Because, all the members, they stayed out. Only the scabs, like us, like some few other workers. When I went down to the table, there wasn't no foreladies, very few workers. The management was running here and there.  Later they tried to get people to come in. In the beginning, the ladies were so scared because of the picket line. They couldn't go in. But after that, they did, they came in.  When the strike was over, They call you as .. a scab ... I didn’t like their attitude. So, instead of staying there and be miserable--working with them, they’re not happy—I stayed home. I didn’t go back to the cannery.

MK: You came back to the cannery in …

IM: Nineteen forty-eight.

MK: Why did you decide to come back?

IM: I was enjoying in the beginning, you know.  I went back, but they changed their attitude. They were good.