PBS Hawai'i will air one-hour documentary on Jack Hall produced by the Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) at UH West O‘ahu

Documentary on Hawaii labor activist showcases fight for working class people

University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu
Julie Funasaki Yuen, (808) 454-4821
PR and Marketing Department
William J. Puette, (808) 454-4774
Center for Labor Education & Research
Posted: Feb 7, 2008

On February 28, 8:30 p.m., PBS Hawaiʻi will air "Jack Hall, His Life and Times," a one-hour documentary on Jack Hall who devoted his life to improving the lives of working class people. He was a key figure in a group of individuals who changed the dynamics of the economic and political structure in the Hawaiian Islands through the trade union movement.

"If I am to be remembered for anything in these islands, I want to be thought of as a rebel in paradise—just one of the guys who struck a spark for a flame that kept burning. We were able to keep it burning. Because of that, working people won dignity, self-respect and a chance to determine their own destinies." (Jack Hall, 1969)

"Jack Hall, His Life and Times" is produced by the Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) at UH West Oʻahu and scheduled to air on the late labor activist‘s birthday. According to Executive Producer Chris Conybeare, the documentary is a story of how unity, purpose, and the simple desire to do good changed Hawaiʻi forever.

For well over two decades, as Regional Director of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Hall steered Hawaiʻi away from feudalism and paternalism bringing industrial democracy to the islands and providing labor an equal place at the table of economic power. With Hall at the helm, the ILWU not only brought about economic equality, but also stood behind progressive legislation, improved educational opportunities, provided better healthcare and more thoughtful urban planning.

While this documentary is a biography of Jack Hall, it is a story of the ILWU in Hawaiʻi as well. "As we follow Hall‘s remarkable voyage from ordinary seaman to Regional Director of the ILWU in Hawaiʻi, then to Vice-President at the ILWU International, we also follow the ILWU and retrace some of the most critical events in island labor history," said Conybeare. "Hall‘s biography illuminates the sweeping story of class struggle, racial unity, trade union solidarity, political action and ultimate change."

Away from his public persona, Hall‘s private life reveals a complex man who was husband, father, friend, intellectual, gourmet cook and jazz aficionado.

Compelling interviews include those with Hall‘s family, friends, politicians, members of early labor organizations in Hawaiʻi, and labor historians. Shot entirely in Hawaiʻi and San Francisco locations, exclusive archival film and photography depict early labor events including strikes, marches and speeches that convey a visceral sense of the times. In addition, on and off camera actors deliver primary source material including speeches, journals and letters by Jack Hall and others to tell the story. Jack Hall was a gifted speaker and journalist, and the documentary gives voice to his thoughts in his own words.

CLEAR serves as the clearinghouse for labor education matters in the State of Hawaiʻi and provides credit and non-credit labor studies courses, labor-related research, and educational services for workers and their organizations.