In the 1400s, ʻUmi established the ahupuaʻa system in the Hawaiian society to manage the stream waters for everyoneʻs need and benefit. Western contact during the reign of Kamehameha I began to introduce the system of racial capitalism to the archipelago. Agricultural plantations were estabished in the 1800s, affecting the ownership and management of stream water between corporate property owners and traditional taro farmers. Judicial opinions debate on the ownership or management of stream water according to private property rights or principles of cooperation and mutual responsibility.
William Little Lee was a lawyer from the American South and served as the Chief Justice of the Hawaiian Kingdom under King Kauikeaouli. He drafted the Masters & Servants Act, which stated that workers (servants) had to provide work to their employers (masters) according to the contract. Contracts often changed without notice to workers. If workers were exploited and abused during their jobs, they could not run away as that would breach their contract, punishable by imprisonment or redemption, plus interest of lost work hours.
This video documentary "Brothers Under the Skin" is a look at the beginning of the modern labor era in Hawai‘i and the longshoremen and women who organized the Hilo waterfront during the 1930s.
Attorney Myer Symonds shares stories about the plight of the working class during the Territorial period of Hawaiʻi. He shares stories of women and girls coming to him for legal representation because of the gendered abuses they experienced in the plantation society.
Harriet Bouslog and Myer Symonds represent the workers arrested after the Great Sugar Strike and the Hawaiʻi Seven during the Smith Act Trials.
The ILWU led this 171 day strike challenging the wage pattern whereby Hawai‘i workers received significantly lower pay than their West Coast counterparts.
Frank Marshall Davis wrote articles for the Honolulu Record. He was the executive editor of the Associated Negro Press. He also lived in Hawaii and mentored many on working-class issues.
Pedro de la Cruz stages the second longest strike in Hawaiʻi, on the island of Lanaʻi from Feb. 27 to Sept. 14, 1951. This was a wild cat strike, without the support of the ILWU union leadership. But these 800 Lanaʻi pineapple workers were able to gain a 15 percent wage increase, a seven-cent an hour increase industry-wide, union recognition, union shop, and job seniority.
"The ILWU as a Force for Interracial Unity in Hawaiʻi" (p. 32) by David E. Thompson discusses the racial dynamics before and during the creation of interracial unions in Hawaiʻi.
Dates when Koji Ariyoshi, a social activist, published a labor focused newspaper called the Honolulu Record.
Lorna Burger reflects on her experience as a Hawaiian-Chinese girl living in the Waialua plantation, witnessing the different immigrant groups moving into her community, and seeing how everyone respected each other. Although, she questions if those teachings are present now.
Patrick Wong reflects on his life in the Waialua plantation as a member of the Chinese community. He remembers the work relations with the Japanese and Korean workers and the rise and fall of the Chinatown in Waialua.
Faustino Baysa reflects on his dislike of being called a number on the bango tag he was assigned. He would rather be called his name, not a number.
Charles and Paul Reppun, Rachel Hall, Clifford Wong, Seiyu and Robert Nakata went to court to ask Circuit Judge Arthur S. K. Fong to grant an injunction to direct the Board of Water Supply to stop diverting 600,000 gallons of water from the Waiheʻe Stream. The Board of Water Supplyʻs actions were depriving the farmers of cool water to grow wetland taro.
United Public Workers and the Hawai'i Government Employee Association make sure they have a seat in the 1978 Constitutional Convention, to push for their interests to collectively bargain and strike.
UPW and HGEA petition against the popular proposal "Initiative, Referendum and Recall." This proposal would give the right to voters to initiate any legislation at the ballot, and to recall any legislative official they have lost confidence in. UPW and HGEA opposed the proposal because it might be driven by "emotion and not rationale."
The Initiative, Referendum & Recall proposal at the 1978 Con Con stokes debate that it is a "mainland" idea that seeks to stoke racial divide in Hawaiʻi.
Con Con delegate Lawrence Kono discusses the history of race and power in Hawaiʻi that underlies the tense debates on the Initiative, Referendum and Recall policy proposal.
Adelaide "Frenchy" DeSoto outlines Native Hawaiian policy proposals to the Con Con to reflect the needs of Hawaiian peoples' culture to be supported and revitalized for their survival as the Indigenous people of Hawaiʻi.
Masakazu Shimoda discusses how his family's plantation store sold products and banking services to Filipino workers.
George Guerrero discusses his experience opening his own plantation store, and the competition with other ethnic-owned stores to gain patrons.
Ide Kanekoa Milles discusses her experiencing crossing the picket line during the Pineapple Strike of 1947. She discusses the animosty against the scabs, the way the management tried to divide the workers, and how it made the work environment challenging afterward.
Margaret Nona Chang reflects on how people worried about the union for being "communist," but how people just picketed like it was a picnic where everyone joked and sang. Even when they gained an increase in wage and went back to work, some co-workers were guilted for being "scabs."
Venicia Guiala discusses the top-down nature of being told to organize the women's auxiliary for the ILWU. She reflects on her experience picketing, but the added work women had to do, to prepare lunch, care for children, and their pets.
Union density is the percentage of union members and union representation within a state. In comparison to other U.S. States, Hawaiʻi has been #1 in union density in 2006, 2018 and 2019, and has only decreased to #3 within 2001-2019.