Labor leader, former lawmaker David K. Trask Jr. dies

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Labor leader David K. Trask Jr. has died.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) confirmed his passing Friday.

According to the association, the former executive director “led the effort to transition from an employee association and make HGEA a union with the constitutional convention passage of bargaining for public employees and the passage of Chapter 89 HRS.”

Current HGEA executive director Randy Perreira said in a statement:

“Hawaii’s public employees have lost a true champion with the passing of David K. Trask, Jr.,” said Perreira. “Mr. Trask was a major force in bringing fairness to Hawaii’s government workforce through collective bargaining, and many of the rights and benefits that these employees enjoy today can be traced back to his influence and efforts.

“HGEA mourns the passing of a great leader of our union and our state. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Trask family.”

Trask was also a former Maui representative, and those who knew him say he was an advocate for Hawaii’s working class.

Additional messages have since come into the newsroom to remember his life and legacy:

“I send my heartfelt condolences to the ohana of David K. Trask, Jr. As a representative and senator from Maui, David K. Trask, Jr., served as an important voice for the people of the Valley Isle at the State Capitol. He also made his mark through his work and staunch advocacy for the working class. It is because of his belief that positive social change happens only through labor organizing, uniting and speaking with a strong voice that Hawaii’s public employees have a better tomorrow. Hawaii has lost a great labor leader.”

– Acting Gov. Shan Tsutsui

“David Trask shaped our island way of life for the better. His leadership and advocacy as a state policy maker, then as the leader of Hawaii’s largest government labor union, helped ensure that public sector workers in Hawaii are treated fairly and with respect. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Trask ohana.”

– Sen. Mazie Hirono

“As a state legislator and a labor leader, David Trask was a fierce advocate for the working people of Hawai’i. He made his mark uniquely, fighting for economic equality and social justice throughout his life.”

– Sen. Brian Schatz

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of David K. Trask, Jr. Throughout his career, David was a fearless leader for the working people of Hawaii who fought hard for the concept of equal pay for equal work. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones in this difficult time.”

– Rep. Mark Takai

“David was elected to the Territorial Legislature as part of the Democratic revolution of 1954 and never looked back. He bestowed a sense of fairness and compassion toward the working men and women of Hawaii throughout his career, and made positive changes that are still felt today. His willingness to fight for what is pono was clearly evident whenever I would talk story with him while working with Sen. Daniel Inouye and his son Peter in Washington, D.C. As the former executive director of HGEA and during his time with AFSCME in our nation’s capital, David was always a tough guy who called it as he saw it, but had the biggest heart for our working families.”

– Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell

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