Who are your Local 5 Organizers? Meet Lilibeth Herrell & Ivan Hou

Local 5 organizers are responsible for training workers to be leaders in their workplaces and out in the community. Thanks to the hard work of our organizers, Local 5 members are learning how to organize their coworkers so that together they can improve their workplaces and make their jobs the best jobs in Hawai’i.

Most of our Local 5 organizers are rank-and-file members—people who worked in our hotels, airports, or healthcare facilities who have taken a leave of absence to work for the Union. They are Local 5 members who were also trained by organizers to be leaders. They were housekeepers, cooks, medical assistants, and more who brought their coworkers together to stand up for their rights and improve their lives.

Some of our Local 5 organizers are community leaders who joined our team because they believe in the power of our union and our ability to improve not just our members’ lives but the future of Hawai’i.

We asked Local 5 organizer Lilibeth Herrell and researcher Ivan Hou to talk story about how what inspires them about Local 5 and how they hope to inspire others. Lilibeth Herrell is a housekeeper at the Sheraton Waikiki who took a leave of absence in 2012 to become an organizer. She is now the organizer at Moana Surfrider and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. Ivan Hou joined the Local 5 team in 2012 as a researcher after several months of volunteering with our political program.

To learn more about how to get involved with Hawaii’s Best Union, contact us and we’ll put you in touch with your organizer.

Watch the video. See the full transcript of the video below:

LILIBETH: Name one Local 5 inspires you and share why.

IVAN: I’m gonna say Joli Tokusato. Because I’ve always been interested in politics; it’s part of what brought me to the union. I believe—I think it’s interesting and fascinating, and I believe there’s a lot of work that needs to be done by the labor movement in politics. And one of it is that working class people need to step up and starting running for office.

And Joli Tokusato did that! She’s like really the only member who’s done that, in my experience, right? She was scared. She didn’t want to. She didn’t think she was qualified or worthy to be an elected official. But she overcame her fears. She did it anyway. She worked hard at it. She got the support of the union and support of volunteers and members from the membership. And she did a really good job.

She didn’t win, but I think it sent a statement out to the community and to lawmakers. And it kind of showed us what’s possible: if more of our workers stepped up and ran for office to take back that political power for working class people, I know we can change things. Joli setting that example is something I admire a lot.

IVAN: And how do you want Local 5 to make other people feel?

LILIBETH: I want Local 5 to make others feel motivated and feel like themselves. Whatever you feel, you can express it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

LILIBETH: And how do you want Local 5 to make others feel?

IVAN: Kinda similarly, I want other people to see what’s possible, to stop kinda being so afraid. Being able and willing to direct action to win back a better quality of life for themselves, and to see what’s possible. When people look at what Local 5 and its membership does—all the rallies, the actions, the strikes, all the different stuff that we do—I want others to learn from that and be motivated by that, and want to do what we do and follow what we do.