Kaiser Permanente Hawaii workers wrote an open letter to Edward Pei, Executive Director of the Hawaii Bankers Association (HBA) and a Board Member of Kaiser Permanente. It has come to our attention that the HBA will soon begin its 2014 Hawaii Food Bank donation drive. We commend their support of the Food Bank, as it does good work helping struggling families and those who are less fortunate.
However, it is striking that the HBA is asking customers, community members and possibly even bank tellers to donate money and food when many tellers are paid less than a living wage. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, half of Hawaii tellers make less than $12.02 per hour. We all know that $12 per hour is not a living wage for people living in Honolulu (this is easily demonstrated by looking at MIT’s living wage calculator).
While it is a good thing that banks are supporting the food drive, we feel that local banks should be supporting their own employees. We ask Edward Pei: what actions will the HBA and its member banks take to ensure that bank employees do not have to live in the same sort of poverty that would require Food Bank assistance?
We also ask, as a small step in the right direction, that each individual member bank of the HBA match the total monetary donations received from customers and outside donors during the HBA donation drive. Doing this will show commitment to the community and increase the Food Bank’s receipts.
We hope that Edward Pei and the HBA will help the local community thrive by helping bank employees thrive in the long term.