The Hawaii State AFL-CIO, which represents 74 unions with 65,000 members, marked Labor Day by throwing its support to mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya, saying he shares the values of the working class.
Amemiya, perhaps best known as former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, is running against Rick Blangiardi, who retired as general manager of Hawaii News Now in January. Both are making their first bids for public office.
“Four years of a ‘my way or the highway,’ strong-arm boss in the White House has been disastrous for the working people of this country,” said Randy Perreira, president of the labor federation. “The last thing that middle-class families of Oahu need is a CEO-type media mogul in Honolulu Hale. Keith Amemiya is hands down the better choice. Keith listens more and works with others to get things done for the people and for our future.”
The Hawaii AFL-CIO unions encompass a wide range of workers, from postal workers to construction trades. Among the largest are the Hawaii Government Employees Association, United Public Workers and Unite Here Local 5. Amemiya, 54, had already lined up numerous union endorsements before Labor Day.
Meanwhile, Blangiardi, 73, has been endorsed by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, ILWU Local 142 and Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters.
Perreira emphasized Amemiya’s “very humble upbringing,” saying he “understands how working people struggle to make ends meet,” and he praised him for giving back to the community.
An attorney, Amemiya headed the Hawaii High School Athletic Association from 1998 to 2010 and worked for the University of Hawaii Board of Regents before becoming senior vice president of Island Holdings.
Amemiya said the foundation of his campaign is to “improve the quality of life of everybody across this island, especially working-class people.” He contrasted his management approach to that of his opponent.
“My style is a lot different,” Amemiya said. “It’s inclusive, collaborative, bringing people together, and that’s what we need. We need collaboration and commitment more than ever.”