He is Tony Rutledge, and on March 16, he was
going to HPU to give a guest lecture to students in COM 3910,
Labor Relations. They were ready, waiting, anxious to hear
labor’s side of the story.
Rutledge is a past president of Unity House, which he and his
father started. A former labor leader recently emerged from a
nine-year federal investigation case with a guilty plea to a
single count of filing a false tax return in 1997.
Rutledge hoped to find at HPU an audience free of prejudice.
It doesn’t matter that Tony plead guilty to a nine-year-old
tax infraction,” said Dr. Larry LeDoux, HPU chair of journalism
and a guest at Rutledge’s talk to the Labor Relations class.
There was no evidence of fraud or conspiracy, the judge was a
friend of a prosecutor and should have recused himself, and Tony
has proved his dedication to Hawai ‘i’s workers and
the labor movement.”
During the 90-minute speech, Rutledge covered a lot of different
topics, including the history of labor union in Hawai ‘i,
his father’s role as one of the first labor union organizers
on the islands, his confrontations with other labor union leaders,
and his involvement with unions since he was 19.
Unions exist,” said Rutledge, “for the improvement
of wages, hours, and conditions of employment. And that’s
Students had lots of questions for Rutledge, who answered all
of them without any hesitation.
It was very honest and open,” said Desiree Ramirez, journalism
He was very believable,” said Brittany Yap, a senior graduating
with a B.A. in journalism, whose family has strong roots in Hawai‘i’s
By the end of his presentation Rutledge had one last thing to
mention. “Unfortunately,” he said, “there are
no classes anywhere in labor history, organization, communication,
negotiation, or theory.”
Course instructor Tony Chang agreed. “It’s one of
the reasons I wanted to teach this course,” Chang said.