Locals argue for higher wages

Kauai residents Patricia Wistinghausen and Marion McHenry flew to Honolulu Tuesday to join other advocates on visits to legislators at the state Capitol to urge them to pass a true living wage for workers in Hawaii.

McHenry, who is retired after three decades in the hospitality industry, says she remembers when people like her could live on minimum-wage jobs.

“Not any more,” she said. “Wages have just not kept up with the cost of living. Even with the last increase to $10.10, I see more and more people becoming homeless because they cannot afford a place to stay. I came to speak on their behalf because they cannot leave their jobs to advocate for themselves.

McHenry said she feels for families she has witnessed preparing their children for school while living in a car.

“These children have no place to return to that can be called a home,” she said.

Wistinghausen knows family and friends who have moved away because, even with college degrees, even though they were giving a lot to the community through their work, they simply could not make rent or buy a home or provide adequately for their families.

“My husband was able to make it through college with the help of the GI Bill. And we used a VA loan to get a house. Without that we would not have been able to buy a house,“ she said.

“I am here to speak for those who could not take time off from work. Lawmakers need to hear their stories. I myself will have to work extra hours to make up for income lost spending this day taking those stories to legislators,” said Wistinghausen. “But it needed to be done.”

Current legislative proposals to raise the wage over the course of four to five years are stuck at between $12.50 and $15 an hour. The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has determined that $17 an hour is what a single person with no children needs.

Advocates are asking legislators to enact a living wage that keeps up with the high cost of living in what is effectively the most expensive state in the nation, according to a press release.


The Garden Island

  1. harry oyama March 14, 2019 8:18 am Reply

    What good is any wage increase when taxes are out of control and getting worst by stupid politicians who fail to act on run away fraud, waste and abuse amounting to $hundreds of millions wasted each year.

    Until this cost overburden is fixed, any wage increase will be nullified by increased taxes and inefficient government work force including one of the worst Union protected policy that gives even convicted government criminals a right to pensions and medical coverage for life. This policy should be eliminated, but because of the strangle hold they sway over coward politicians, it will never be implimented.

    Many State and County services should be contracted out

  2. Oingo boingo March 14, 2019 8:18 am Reply

    Even at $17/hr… Fat chance on making rent
    On this Island…Rent is out of control here

    1. I saw a Vampire once March 14, 2019 1:37 pm Reply

      Hourly wage or salary? If it were hourly hourly wage, you would not get any hours to work for. And if it was a salary, there would be no work to do to collect on the $17 dollars/hour wage. Either way, doomed. Stuck just remaining there until something comes up.

  3. Charlie Chimknee March 14, 2019 7:33 pm Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    Minimum wage…? One side of the coin…!

    The other side is you are working a minimum job.

    Many business owners work automatic hours equal to 2 jobs, many home owners worked 2 jobs both wife and husband to get a home and had no GI Bill or VA Loan…you were lucky to have government assistance. Combat benefits is easy to understand.

    Many people need a 2nd job…health…less cigarettes and alcohol.

    Foreigners in America laugh at Americans, knowing to be successful all you have to do is work 2 jobs. Lots of immigrants came poor and now own their own homes, even 2.

    Old saying…”you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

    Another is “ Luck is spelled…W-O-R-K…” as in “wow, you lucky to get that house “.


  4. OJISAN March 18, 2019 12:19 pm Reply

    Minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage. It was meant for the inexperienced workers to learn the business trade, build character and disipline to move on to a better paying jobs. Increase in the minimum wage will increase the teenage unemployment, small business to cut staffs, working hours will be reduced and many small businesses will end up closing shops. And what they don’t tell you is, many will lose their entitlement benefits like food stamps, WIC, health ins. and etc. because their increased income will exceed the national threshold to qualify for the benefits. Unions and the politicians will push this to make them look like they are fighting for the poor and the helpless. Study what happened to Seattle or NYC and see what happened with the unemployment rate for those who were demanding $15.00 minimum wage. ….it’s not pretty.

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