In Hawaii unions have monopolies in public education and the shipping industry thereby maintaining the status quo by stifling competition. While benefiting a few with steady well paying jobs, a far greater number are hurt by poor service and higher prices. In Hawaii such union monopolies spread their influence to politics. Perhaps this is one reason that Hawaii has the lowest voter turnout in the United States.
Public education in Hawaii is alarmingly poor. In the 2004-05 school year, only 34% of the schools met the No Child Left Behind Standards (Click here for more). Even more shocking, the "standard" is quite low: a pass for a school means 44% of students are proficient in reading and 28% of students are proficient in math. This could mean that on graduation day in June 2005 only 15% of the students statewide were proficient in reading and less than one out of ten were proficient in math. That statistic would not encourage many businesses to hire summer help, and tax payers should be angry for the $11,307 per student set aside to achieve this failure.
The insightful article written by Sol Stern in 1997 shows that the situation has not changed in 10 years. The collective bargaining of the teachers’ union is not tied to performance because no one is competing to provide a better education for the public school student. These unions flex their political muscle by political donations and by providing union paid "volunteers" to staff campaigns. Such union "volunteers" might have been the source of the Kailua July 4 parade marchers for Dan Akaka. These unions buy their representation at both the state and federal levels and these elected officials keep the unions in their unproductive monopolies.
The dockworkers union is another example of how monopolies hurt the majority in Hawaii. The 1920 Jones act eliminated foreign shipping competition, thus securing a union monopoly at the docks. The cost per family in the higher freight costs is about $250 million a year, or $870 for a family of four (in 2003 statistics). The only group that benefits is the approximately 507 stevedores who can demand higher wages. During the 1999 strike negotiations these wages were as follows: "Under the previous contract, a clerk on the West Coast earned about $117,617, and a foreman or lineman earned $156,251. Crane operators can earn about $180,000 or more depending on their hours and overtime." This was before the 1999 7.8% wage increase and other subsequent wage increases (Click here for more).
In Hawaii, only 4 out of 10 people voted in 2000 and only 48.9% in 2004 - both years ranked Hawaii last in the nation. One reason given by some is, "why bother, the system is broken and corrupt so it does not matter if I vote or not." Such a sentiment supports the theory that monopolistic unions are unduly involved in politics. Rumors have it that union members bring their absentee ballots for union bosses to fill out for them, an apparent requirement of their continued union membership. Recently a proposed amendment to the Voters Rights Act would have identified Hawaii as the only state covered by the most severe regulations. Questionable activities by power brokering unions in Hawaii might be just as bad as ethnic discrimination in hindering voter turnout.
Unions historically fought to give the powerless a collective voice to earn a fair wage from unfair employers. Today in Hawaii some of the unions are doing the opposite, they power broker to hurt the majority, rob children of the skills for a productive future, and perhaps deny the democratic process of a fair vote. This sort of thing made me angry enough to put my name in for US Senate. I hope it will make others around the country angry enough to research the issues, vote, and demand a better return for their tax and consumer dollars. The first step is to register before the August 24 deadline (Click here for more) for registering in Hawaii)—and find a friend or two to register as well.
Mark Beatty MA, THM, PHD, MBA, JD is the Republican candidate for the US Senate in Hawaii (www.electmarkbeatty.com) For Mark’s other articles see www.bestideashawaii.com.