Local UPW to remain status quo

The takeover of the United Public Workers union in Hawai’i by its parent company will not change the leadership of the Kaua’i branch or that of UPW branches statewide.

The Kaua’i staff, headed by Gilbert Nobriega, will remain the same.

Services and benefits to an estimated 800 members on Kaua’i also will not change.

Questions about those issues arose after the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees announced Thursday it would take over the daily operations of the 12,000-member union in Hawai’i. The parent company has 1.3 million members nationwide.

Having assumed UPW Local 646 under administratorship, AFSCME has suspended members of the UPW’s executive board until elections are held.

The takeover also canceled the appointment of Dwight Takeno, reported to be a longtime supporter of Rodrigues, and named Honolulu labor attorney Peter Trask as the union’s administrator.

Neither Trask nor Nobriega was available for comment Friday.

Some UPW members asked AFSCME to step in after the resignation in November of UPW state director Gary Rodrigues and the appointment of Takeno as successor to Rodrigues.

Rodrigues was suspended by AFSCME Nov. 21, after he and his daughter, Robin Rodrigues Sabatini, were convicted on federal charges of mail fraud, money laundering, embezzlement and accepting kickbacks tied to a union employee benefit plan.

After Rodrigues was replaced by Takeno, some UPW pulled together petition drive to have Takeno and the executive board removed, contending Rodrigues continued to influence the UPW leadership.

At least one UPW official said that members wanted a fair election of new officers.

AFSCME president Gerald McEntee was quoted as saying the takeover is intended to “restore integrity to the leadership of this union.”

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