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Organize Hawaii event flyer

Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls will discuss the growing trend of independent labor unions at the 10th annual LaborFest Hawaiʻi event. The Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) and Labor Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu are helping to organize the event along with other union cosponsors.

This year’s LaborFest Hawaiʻi event, “Organize Hawaii,” will be live streamed on Thursday, September 15, 6–7 p.m. on the LaborFest Hawaiʻi Facebook and YouTube pages. There will also be a stream link during the live broadcast via

Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls.
Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls

According to UH West Oʻahu faculty specialist in labor education and event co-organizer Leslie Lopez, the purpose of the event is to discuss the current wave of independent labor unions—such as Amazon, Chipotle, Starbucks and Target—and the obstacles workers face when trying to organize an independent union in their workplace.

The event will feature a panel discussion including Smalls and CLEAR Director William Puette. Lyla Berg from the National Council for Learning and Civic Engagement will moderate the panel.

Other panelists will include:

  • Amy Perruso, Hawaiʻi state representative
  • Kalani Werner, UPW state director
  • Eric Gill, Unite HERE Local 5 financial secretary and treasurer
  • Chris West, ILWU Local 142 president
  • Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua, graduate worker at Academic Labor United

“We hope attendees learn about the invaluable role organized labor plays in workplace safety, wage standards and healthcare in society, particularly in Hawaiʻi,” Lopez said. “We hope working people learn how important it is to vote for legislators who support organized labor, and how labor laws that protect working people also protect the general public.”

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