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November 4, 2008, was historic and a victory for labor and all working people. Hawaii born Barack Obama was elected president by a huge margin. While a handful of elections are still undecided, the Democrats gained at least 8 seats in the US Senate and 19 seats in the US House of Representatives.

The huge Democratic victory will allow Obama to stop and reverse many of the anti-worker measures put in place under George W. Bush. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Act) can start enforcing job safety. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) can start protecting workers’ rights to unionize.

Gains made in Hawaii 
In Hawaii, the victory was also very sweet. Nearly all ILWU endorsed candidates were elected. The people voted “No” on holding a Constitutional Convention and Oahu voters said “Yes” to the rail system for Honolulu.

Union endorsed mayors were elected on Kauai and the Big Island and Mufi Hannemann was reelected  for Honolulu. Many ILWU supported council members were also elected in all counties.

In the Hawaii State Senate, all union endorsed incumbent candidates were reelected. In addition, three new candidates were elected— Dwight Takamine and Josh Green on the Big Island and Brickwood Galuteria on Oahu. Galuteria defeated the incumbent Republican Gordon Trimble. In August 2007, Senator Mike Gabbard left the Republican Party to become a Democrat. This increased the number of Democrats in the Senate to 23, while the Republicans are down to only two members in the Senate.

In the Hawaii State House of Representatives, 45 union endorsed candidates won their elections. In addition, one new candidate Jessica Wooley defeated Republican incumbent Colleen Meyer in the Haiku-Kahuluu district. This increased the number of Democrats to 45 members in the House, and reduces the number of Republicans to six members in the House.

A long line of Kauai Division members and retirees hold signs for union endorsed mayoral candidate Bernard Carvalho.

This large ILWU group helped campaign for State House member Joe Souki.

All Divisions worked hard on PAC

ILWU members and retirees worked hard in all Divisions. Dozens of members helped candidates by walking house to house to deliver campaign material.

Maui members watched the polling areas and called their fellow coworkers who had not yet voted or offered to drive them to the polling places.

Members and retirees made hundreds of phone calls to remind members to vote. They also stuffed and labelled thousands of leaflets mailed to members’ homes.

ILWU volunteers put up yard signs and spent hours over many days holding signs on the road side.

Many endorsed candidates recognized that the ILWU often turned out the largest number of volunteers. One candidate described the union’s political work as “awesome.”

ILWU volunteers worked hard to educate the public to vote “No” on holding a Constitutional Convention at this time. Hawaii’s Constitution is working well and a convention is not needed, expensive, and could threaten civil rights.

Many ILWU endorsed candidates took the time to meet and talk directly with members. US congresswoman Mazie Hirono visited the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Hotel to meet with culinary, bell, and housekeeping workers.