BY HAWAII REPORTER
The number of Hawaii workers who were a member of a union slipped in 2010 as union membership fell nationally.
Figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a total of 111,000 Hawaii workers were union members in 2010.
That’s 12,000 less than in 2009.
The percentage of unionized employees as part of the overall workforce also fell, with 21.8 percent of the state’s labor force counting as union members.
That was down from 2009’s level of 23.9 percent.
Nationally the percentage of union workers also dropped, falling to 11.9 percent.
New York continued to boast the most unionized workers in the nation, with almost a quarter of its labor force being a member of a union (24.2 percent).
Alaska (22.3 percent) is now the second-most unionized state, having surpassed Hawaii.
North Carolina was the least unionized at 3.2 percent.
Maui County, Relativity Media in Talks about Film Industry
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said he is in talks with California’s Relativity Media about making Maui a major film production hub.
“Having been instrumental in creating the new Montreal incentives and production programs, and having worked closely with New Mexico, Louisiana and many others, we can’t think of a better place than Maui to focus our efforts towards building a new industry which will help Maui’s economy,” Ryan Kavanaugh, chief executive officer of Relativity Media, a company that has produced and/or financed 200 studio-quality motion pictures.
Kavanaugh said the company wants to help build studio infrastructure along with developing proper tax incentives and training programs.
The state of Hawaii already maintains a tax credit for film and television productions that is 15 percent on Oahu and 20 percent on the Neighbor Islands.
Arakawa said the county has open areas where a production studio could be built. Sound stages have been at a premium on Oahu, with “The Descendants” film production last year renting out the old CompUSA building on Ala Moana and Hawaii 5-0 currently using the old Honolulu Advertiser building.
“We recognize there is a tremendous need for production capacity and, at the same time, a wonderful opportunity to create a new economic engine for our community,” Arakawa was quoted as saying in a press statement.
Relativity’s films include Salt, Despicable Me, Grown Ups, Charlie St. Cloud and Get Him to the Greek.
University of Hawaii Extends Greenwood for another Three Years
The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents has extended UH President M.R.C. Greenwood’s appointment for an additional three years, to run through July 31, 2015.
The board noted Greenwood has steered the UH System during a time of drastic budget cuts, while moving forward on critical projects. These include major research initiatives such as the UH Cancer Center and the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope. She also helped steer the university’s athletic teams’ entry into the Mountain West and Big West Conferences.
Hawaii Files Brief Supporting Healthcare Reform act in Federal Appeals Court
The state of Hawaii joined eight other states in filing an amicus brief in support of a case involving the federal healthcare reform act.
The brief, filed in a federal appeals court in Ohio, seeks to affirm a Michigan U.S. District Court ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Hawaii joined California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon, New York, and Vermont in filing the brief.
The states argue that the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires everyone to have a healthcare policy or pay a financial penalty, is a valid constitutional exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause.
The case was filed by the Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor Michigan that had sued on behalf of itself and four plaintiffs. The center has criticized the law for what it says is a mandate that requiring all legal residents to purchase “minimum essential” healthcare coverage under penalty of federal law.
Hawaii Attorney General David Louie said “the purpose of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – to provide greater access to affordable health care for those who need it – is an appropriate use of Congress’ power and serves a good purpose. The challenge to the individual mandate is without merit, and should be opposed.”
BlackSand Capital Acquires Portion of Pearlridge Center
BlackSand Capital, LLC, a Hawaii-based real estate investment firm, said it’s acquired Pearlridge Uptown II, a 9.3-acre development that comprises the eastern wing of the Uptown portion of Pearlridge Center.
The retail space is anchored by Borders and Price Busters Hawaii, with other tenants including INspirationFun, Kay Jewelers, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor and First American Title.
The seller was INspiration International, LLC.
BlackSand Capital was founded last by BJ Kobayashi and Ian W. MacNaughton.
Abercrombie Appoints Coordinator in bid to end Homelessness
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has named a point man in his effort to end homelessness in Hawaii, appointing former Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu Vicar General Marc Alexander to the post.
Alexander will serve as the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness and will work with state and federal agencies, community programs and foundations, and the business community to find opportunities and solutions to address homelessness collaboratively.
Wilhelmina Affiliate Office Opening in Hawaii
Wilhelmina International has signed a licensing agreement with longtime Hawaii agent Ryan Brown to open an affiliate office of its model agency in Hawaii.
Wilhelmina Hawaii is one of 13 affiliate offices for Wilhelmina International, which has corporate offices in Los Angeles, New York and Miami.
The local affiliate will open with divisions for men and women and plans to expand later this year with teens and children.