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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

UH coaches say going to work is difficult

 •  High school baseball players practice on their own
 •  Strike brings OIA baseball races to a halt

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i men's basketball coach Riley Wallace remembers the strikes at the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, where his father and two brothers worked, and how the rest of the family would scramble for odd jobs in order to put the daily bread on the table.

"We would go out and pick apples or corn, anything," Wallace recalled. "We were a family of seven kids, and times were hard, but we've always been supportive of the union. I grew up in a union family."

Even today, Wallace's loyalty remains true. His wife, Joan, a teacher at Jarrett Intermediate School, woke up at 4:30 yesterday morning to prepare for her turn walking the picket line.

"All I can do is believe in their cause, and I do believe in their cause," Wallace said. "Teachers and professors are underpaid."

It is why Wallace is torn emotionally as he drives past Kaiser High, where the teachers have set up pickets, or why it makes it difficult to go to work each day, past the professors who are involved in their own strike against the state.

By law, Wallace, a member of the Hawai'i Government Employees' Association, is prohibited from striking. By profession, with NCAA teams permitted to start signing recruits tomorrow, Wallace must show up for work every day to remain competitive in the recruiting wars.

Still, he said, "I feel funny when you go through (the pickets) there, when you see your friends there. (The administration ) told us we had to work, yet (the professors) need all of the support they can get. It's very hard."

UH assistant football coach Ron Lee also said it is difficult to cross the picket line. Lee taught social studies at Kaiser High in 1973, the last time the public school teachers walked out.

"It's tough," he said. "This is people's livelihood. When they go through (a strike), and not knowing how long it's going to be, it's not a fun time."

When asked if the striking professors know he is required to work, Lee said, "I don't know. I hope so. We support them 100 percent. It's tough."

UH men's volleyball coach Mike Wilton, who publicly apologized after receiving a traffic citation for driving on a sidewalk to avoid a picket before last Friday's match, also has pledged his support for the striking faculty.

"In a way, we have very similar causes," Wilton said. "I'm sure most coaches consider themselves to be teachers. There's a great deal of empathy."

The top-ranked Warriors are scheduled to leave this morning for a trip to Provo, Utah, and Wilton said he has asked the team to meet off-campus for the drive to the airport. Wilton said he does not want the bus driver to cross the picket line.

Leon Schumaker, the athletic department's head of student affairs, also is in a difficult position because of his close work with the faculty. He said he has brought the striking professors manapua and, when it rained last Friday, plastic bags. He also has remained patient while waiting in the long car lines entering the campus.

"I've been cordial and they've been cordial," Schumaker said. "I support them, but the law tells me I have to work. I hope there won't be any animosity."