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Bus strike: Unionized terrorism

by Ian Lim, '91

As we neared the date, a few weeks ago, of the worst terrorist act in modern history, I pondered with restless anger a terrorist act occurring in our own community. It is a sad situation when an entire island population is held hostage, and not even for political ideals or moral principles, but for ransom.

It is with a solemn acknowledgement of a failing spirit of aloha among a handful of our citizens that I highlight three points about the Teamsters’ Union bus strike.

First, the timing of the strike: It was initiated at a time when it could do the most damage and cause the greatest inconvenience to the greatest number, a time when schools and universities reopen. Innocents—from children to young adults were the target of Teamster cynicism that has backfired in its communication to the community of the union’s arrogance.

Second, the call for a sympathy strike of the vans that convey the handicapped: This was the antithesis of aloha and the height of selfishness. The elderly and the disabled depend on the handicapped vans for medicine and medical treatment and access to food and other essential human services. The Union’s plan to spare not even the helpless shows that their true strategy is to use us all as hostages.

Public outcry not only thwarted their specific effort but showed that most of the island’s population recognized the strikers’ for what they are: selfish, conceited, and inconsiderate, dominated by an ignorant, self-centered leadership that cares for no one but itself.

How ironic the Union leader’s cry, “We’re not the bad guys!”

The drivers elected their leaders; presumably they knew what they were getting and wanted it. But if we weren’t sure that the drivers were bad guys too, they showed their true colors for us when they, themselves, voted down the opportunity for a 90-day “cooling—off period” that would end community stress by bringing them back to work while negotiations continued.

How ironic the Union leader’s cry . . . ?

Third, the issue of the strike: Hawai‘i is a democratic state with a long history of support for unions and labor. Many sympathized initially with the strikers call for a fair wage and no cutbacks and layoffs. But then we discovered that the drivers already made more money than policemen, firemen, and teachers. Did we hear the teamsters say “yes, we are all underpaid”? No.

How ironic the Union leader’s cry . . . ?

The Union leadership talks of deception. Who is deceiving whom? Enough is enough. Let us see the union leadership and its membership for what they are.

Ian Lim received his B.S.B.A. from HPU in 1991. He is currently working on a master’s degree in Communication.



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