LaborFest Hawai’i Timeline:

12/30/2010 – Musician’s Union Hall

Present: Steve Zeltzer of LaborFest San Francisco met with David Carr, John Chilcott, Kit Grant, Steve Dinion, Michael Corlew, Leslie Lopez

Meeting Notes:

  • LaborTech specifically addresses the use of technology in organizing: Streamed events directly live to the internet.
  • San Francisco’s laborfest is organized around specific date, Bloody Thursday. Upcoming release: (Note: It took 17 years to get to the “program” point in San Francisco, the very first laborfest was a flyer with three events.)
  • Golden Hands Working Lands: is a curriculum and video produced by the California Federation of Teachers.

Ideas/Suggestions for organizing Honolulu Laborfest:

  • Film Festival? Honolulu International Labor Film Festival
  • SF festival program printing and other materials funded by advertisements primarily sponsored by unions.
  • Laborfest in San Francisco – nonprofit status.
  • Locations: Use union halls, public parks for activities and events.
  • Organize laborfest around specific date: 8/1: Hilo Massacre, 9/9: Hanapepe Strike, Sugarcane strikes or other large union conference events in Honolulu.
  • Events suggestions: Movies, Historical Tours, Bus Tours, Walking Tours, Plays, Musicians, Authors, Panels (Convention Grants?)
  • Include events and discussions for injured workers.
  • Activities and events surrounding tuition increase and education, labor studies programs.
  • Involve CLEAR: Center for Labor Education and Research:

2/20/2012: In order to apply for grant funding, we created a trade name, and opened an account as an unincorporated organization.

Sept. 21, 2012 – 1st Annual LaborFest Hawai’i:

 Our first event was a film showing of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman.” This film was a counter-argument to Davis Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman” which targeted teacher unions and pushed privatization, charter schools, and the business model of education. Guggenheim advocates the same austerity-based, anti-union, anti-teacher, and ultimately anti-student reform regime championed by Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, and others. Link to report:

2012 LaborFest Hawaii organizers and volunteers

David Carr, Leslie Lopez, Noel Kent, Kati Corlew, Michael Corlew

2012 Cosponsors:

HSTA, ACLU Hawai’i, PrideatWork Hawai‘i

2012 Panelists:

Lois Yamauchi, Noel Kent, Pete Doktor, Sue Haglund, Mohammad Rahman, Hawai’i Public School Students

Sept. 20 & 21, 2013 – 2nd Annual LaborFest Hawai’i

Authors & Presenters:

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz discussed issues relating to her book The Great Sioux Nation: Sitting in Judgment on America. Dunbar-Ortiz testified at the “Sioux Treaty Hearing” in federal court in 1974 in which 65 defendants faced criminal charges stemming from the confrontation at the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation during the Wounded Knee siege of 1973. Dunbar-Ortiz’s focus combines indigenous and class struggles.


Noel Kent spoke on the 30th anniversary of his Hawaii: Islands Under the Influence. Kent delineates a timeline of the shift from indigenous social relations and land use to a capitalist extractive system that placed Hawaii into a relationship of dependency with the United States, devastating life and land in the process.


Joe Burns’ Reviving the Strike: How Working People Can Regain Power And Transform America has become one of the most talked about labor books among working class activists. In straightforward language he outlines the trajectory of the labor movement, from the development of effective production-halting strikes of the “traditional” sort, to the far less effective tactics that were formulated as a reaction to the backlash against labor by government, owners, and conservative courts who side with the ruling class.


Ray Catania combines a radical class-struggle based unionism with  a local passion for preserving Kanaka Maoli culture and a concern for protecting farmlands from big agriculture corporate predation. Catania is a rich source for local labor history and a long time social justice activist. He was a speaker at the Moana Nui Conference and is a frequent speaker for labor groups on the islands. Ray has the ability to make people laugh even as he riles them up to join in the class struggle.


2013 LaborFest Hawai’i organizers and volunteers

David Carr  (President), Leslie Lopez (Secretary) , Noel Kent, Ray Catania, Michael Corlew, Kati Corlew, John Sweeney, Elaine Mezurashi, (Musicians) Colleen Kelly, Laulani Teale, Rich Rath

2013 Cosponsors:

HSTA, ACLU Hawaii’i, IATSE Local 665, Hawaii Federal and Amalgamated Local Lodge 1998, PrideatWork Hawaii

Sept. 21, 2014 – 3rd Annual LaborFest Hawai’i

Authors & Presenters:

Professor Gerald Horne spoke on Fighting in Paradise: Labor Unions, Racism and Communists in the Making of Modern Hawaii, 2011. “Fighting in Paradise tells a story that is both remarkable and, considering its atypical milieu, remarkably relevant. . . . For anyone interested in the confluence of race and class in social movements, the political role of organized labor, or the impact of left-wing activists in the union movement, the story of the ILWU in Hawaii is a revelation.” —Labor Studies Journal (38:1, March 2013)

Steve Early presented Save our Unions: Dispatches from a movement in distress, 2013: “‘Save Our Unions’ is a plea we hear from workers seeking a better life throughout our country these days. This book shows what it takes to defend democracy, workers rights, and social justice unionism when all are under attack by big business.” – Dolores Huerta, co-founder, United Farm Workers and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom


The following panelists responded to following questions which were written by the board:

William Puette, faculty director of UH West O‘ahu’s Center for Labor Education & Research

In the 1930s-40s, the “golden” period of labor union organizing, unions functioned as broad social movements for the betterment of the many; can they hope to thrive (much less to survive) today without seriously taking on the fight for the rights of the poor, immigrants, minorities, etc?

Given the extreme fragility of Hawai’i’s economy and over dependence on tourism and military spending, can private sector unions sustain their membership and power?

Susan Schultz, Professor of English, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

What do University of Hawaii faculty, students, and workers need to do to effectively make demands on the Administration and the state, and what should be included in those demands?

Jonathan Dial, Graduate Student Organization Advocacy Chair

How might we increase graduate student interest in labor issues?

Jim Dator, Professor and Director of the Hawai‘i Research Center for Futures Studies, UHM Department of Political Science

As we peer into the next quarter-century or so, what are the major social, economic and political forces that will act to empower American working people and unions or continue to weaken them?


2014 LaborFest Hawai’i organizers and volunteers:

David Carr  (President), Leslie Lopez (Secretary) , Noel Kent, Ray Catania, Elaine Mezurashi, (Musicians) Liko Martin, Ikaika Hussey, Laulani Teale

2014 Cosponsors:

ILWU, Hawaii State AFL-CIO, Hawaii Peace & Justice, OPEIU, ACLU Hawaii’i, IATSE Local 665, PrideatWork Hawaii, LaborNotes, The Ah Quon McElrath Foundation

12/13/2014: New Officers Mtg. (3 year term)

Present: Noel Kent, Ray Catania, John Witeck, Josh Frost, Jack Taylor, Amy Perruso, William Puette, Tod Robertson, Allison Lum, Leslie Lopez & Guests

  • Noel and Leslie presented on the San Franciso model which includes: cross-union collaborations on educational presentations, book talks, historical walks, film events, etc.
  • Immediate goals: William Puette talked recommended posting bylaws and officers on the website as soon as possible. Articles & Bylaws attached.
  • Long Term Goals: Continue to focus on labor education, open space for labor culture, focus on both history and current struggles. Involve youth or students in events and/or planning.
  • Allison Lum from Aikea presented in the $31 for everyone campaign, and alignment between LFest and Aikea goals. She would possibly be interested in supporting an event related to housing.

4th Annual LaborFest 9/25/2015

United Public Workers Union Hall – School Street


5:00 – 5:30 Pupus & Music

5:30 – 6:00 John Charlot Presentation

6:00 – 7:00 Adolph Reed Jr. Presentation

7:00 – 7:30 Panel Discussion in Honor of John Kelly

7:30 – 8:00 Discussions and Door Prizes

8:00 Pau

Organizers: Leslie Lopez, David Carr, Ray Catania, Noel Kent; Volunteers: Elaine Mezurashi, Diego Medina, Saya Medina

Presenters: John Charlot, Andre Perez, Adolph Reed, Eric Gill2015 Cosponsors: Ah Quon McElrath Fund for Economic and Social Justice; Hawaii State AFL-CIO; Eric Gill, UNITE HERE Local 5, and the AIKEA Movement; Hawai’i Peace & Justice; ACLU of Hawai’i; ILWU Local 142; IATSE Mixed Local 665; Hawai’i People’s Fund; Hawai’i Federal & Amalgamated Local Lodge 1998, IAM&AW; OPEIU 277, American Income Life Insurance; Hawai’i State Teachers Association; Labor Heritage Foundation; Pride At Work Hawai’i; Colleen Kelly; Ira L. Gottlieb ‘Ōlelo Community Media; Ethic Studies, American Studies, and Art Departments at University of Hawai’i at Mānoa; The Center for Labor Education & Research at the University of Hawai’i – West O’ahu

5th Annual (2016)

5:30 – 6:00 pm – Reception: Jazz pianist Rich Crandall, pupus & refreshments, t-shirt, book, poster sales
6:00 – 7:00 – Dr. William Puette, Director, Center for Labor Education & Research presents Hawaii Labor History and workers’ rights, with question/answer from audience
7:00 – 7:30 – Katherine Isaac, consultant for the American Postal Workers Union Campaign for Postal Banking, with question/answer from audience
7:30 – 8:00 – Ray Catania and Asami Kobayashi lead panel/audience discussion on Fight for 15 and working class issues brought out in the Sanders Campaign

*LaborFest Hawaii seeks to provide an open forum for discussing working cass issues and does not endorse any specific party or candidate.
The 5th Annual LaborFest Hawai’i is co-hosted by Hawai’i Peace & Justice.

We’d like to thank our sponsors: AIKEA; Center for Labor Education & Research; Dr. Linda Carr; Hawai’i Peoples’ Fund; Hawai’i State AFL-CIO; Pride@work Hawai’i, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 665 (IATSE) International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 142 I(LWU), UNITE HERE Local 5, ‘Ōlelo Community Media

6th Annual (2017)

5:30 – 6:00 pm – Reception: pupus & refreshments, t-shirt, book, poster sales
6:00 – 6:45 – Dr. William Puette, Director, Center for Labor Education & Research presents:
“History of healthcare in Hawai’i”
7:45 – 7:30 – Mark Dudzic: National Coordinator for Labor for Single Payer
7:30 – 8:00 – Discussion Panel: Mark Dudzic; Dr. Stephen Kemble; Casey Chung – Hawai’i Nurses Association; Eric Gill, UNITE HERE Local 5

Cosponsors: Mahalo to our speakers, panelists, volunteers, board members and the following sponsors: CLEAR, IATSE665, HNA OPEIU Local 50, HSTA, IAMAW Local 1998, Pride At Work Hawai’i, ILWU Local 142, Musicians’ Association of Hawaii, UNITE HERE Local 5, Buddy Gottlieb, Olelo Community Media, Video Editor Joy Chong-Stannard, and Queen Kapiolani Hotel

2/12/2018: New Officers – Coffeeline UH Manoa

President: Josh Frost (ends 12/2018); Secretary Leslie Lopez (ends 12/2019); Treasurer: Benton Rodden (12/20); Tech/Social Media: Tim Zhu (12/20).