Business Manager's Message
Valentino Ceria, Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer
I want to begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year and hope you all enjoyed the holidays. I would like to recap some of my accomplishments for 2019.
I began the year as Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer along with Business Agents, President Matthew Brady, Vice President Benjamin Panis and later, Recording Secretary Lance Hayashi and Examining Board member Samuel Barrett, Jr.
Earlier in the year, we initiated a Forensic Audit and worked closely with International Representative Derrick Kualapai and the UA, to make sure the Union made operational changes and established new policies to be in compliance. I hired Herbert Takahashi as the Union’s attorney specializing in labor law who worked with the UA putting into place, the policies and guidelines to ensure the Union follow practices within the law.
We hired an independent CPA firm, MC Group Hawaii, to do a complete financial audit or exit audit on the recommendation of the UA for the incoming new administration. The audit was completed in August stating no significant findings and was submitted to the UA. After the audits were complete, the dissolution of the Pacific Equity Group (PEG) was set into motion. Final closure was at the end of the year in 2019.
Lemke Chinen & Tanaka, CPA was hired as the Union’s new independent certified public accountant. They have vast experience working with many of the labor unions in Hawaii.
As the Business Manager I continue to serve as Chair or Co-Chair representing the Union on the Trust Funds, along with Matthew Brady and Benjamin Panis as Union Trustees. One of the biggest challenges for the Trust Funds was the Pension Plan. We worked with management trustees to keep the $100 benefit unit pension rate for the members. We also worked toward making the pension plan healthier by having permanent reallocations of the current funds and contributing new monies into the plan from both Union and Management. Both Union and Management voted for the ratification of the changes. The Trustees also made additional changes within the plan to keep the Pension Plan from going into the Yellow Zone. Educational and informational material were discussed at the Union meetings and mailed out to the members including website information.
Kika Bukoski was hired as Director of Government and Public Affairs. He works with the legislature, government officials, and political figures for all islands and research bills impacting our Union. One such bill was the adoption of Bill 2612 on Kauai, maintaining the integrity of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) which we support and removing completely the International Plumbing Code (IPC) from the prior language.
This year we had three Apprenticeship Recruitments. In June on Oahu, and in October for Oahu and Maui. This was done to alleviate the need for manpower demands.
In 2019, we also signed seven new signatory contractors.
The Union continues to be a member of the Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council. I was elected to be a Trustee for the Council and on the Executive Board for the Building Trades. As Business Manager for Local 675, I signed a Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council PLA (Project Labor Agreement), with Developer JL Avalon Capbridge, for the Sky Ala Moana project.
I attended UA training seminars for newly elected Business Managers throughout the year and maintained relationships with the UA President and Officers as well as other business managers from other locals. At the training sessions, we were reminded that each local needed to establish an Organizing Fund to contribute 10 cents for every manhour per month to the UA for their initiative in Organizing. The mandated contribution from our General Fund began in July 2019.
The Ha’aheo newsletter was revitalized in 2019 after a long absence and will continue to go out quarterly. The website was also updated and we will continue to add more information for members and contractors, and about upcoming meetings and events.
For the Union’s Federal Credit Union, I am currently the President with Matt Brady as Vice President. If any member is interested in joining the credit union, please contact FCU manager Jenny Lee at (808) 537-9135.
We continue to sponsor the Great Aloha Run for our members and family participation as a 100th presidential member, with breakfast at the Aloha Stadium. We also continue to participate in the annual Labor Unity Picnic with giveaways to members, held at the Waikiki Shell celebrating Labor Day. In 2019, I became the Chairman for the Union’s Imi Loa Foundation Scholarship Fund. The applications for our members’ children or grandchildren for 2020, will be available on the website Plumbershawaii.com, on March 1st.
Lastly, after preparing all year round, we celebrated our 100th Year Anniversary of our Union, on November 23, 2019 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. UA General President Mark MacManus who oversees all the plumbing & pipefitting locals across the United States and Canada, was present as our Honorary Chairman. Brother McManus, General Executive Board Officer Stanley Smith, International Representative Derrick Kualapai, and Director of Information Technology and our former International Representative for Hawaii, Bob Lamb, all mentioned to me that they were very impressed with the event and with our local union.
When we visited the neighbor islands for the Union Christmas dinners, we shared some of the mementoes. Each member received the commemorative book, wine glasses and coasters and were very happy and appreciative. We also showed the slide show and 100th anniversary video on each island.
For this year, 2020, I am looking at continuing to improve on efficiency and growth for the Union so we can provide more opportunities for our members and contractors. There are many issues that come up and we will push forward when it comes to our membership and our jurisdiction. My business agents and I will continue to attend UA sponsored or endorsed educational seminars to strengthen our Union and service to the membership. This is also an important election year so we will be focusing on voter registration.
One of the biggest improvements I think is the communication with our members and instilling pride in our Union. We will continue to do so moving forward.