Categorized | Government, News

Former state Personnel Director and Chief Negotiator James Takushi passes Monday (Nov 14)


From the family of the late James H. Takushi and Statement from Governor George R. Ariyoshi

Former state Personnel Director and Chief Negotiator, James H. Takushi, passed away November 14, 2016, surrounded by family and friends at his Alewa home.

James Takushi

James Takushi

“Jimmy,” as he was best known by his friends, was a forthright and visionary public servant. He served as state Personnel Director for Governor John A. Burns and later Governor George R. Ariyoshi. In 1994, Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano sought a bold director for state Human Resources Director (formerly Personnel Services) and asked Takushi to lead the state HR once again. Takushi started the state’s new Office of Collective Bargaining just after collective bargaining was approved by the legislature, and he became the state’s Chief Negotiator. He subsequently served on the state Labor and Industrial Appeals Board and was the human resource vice president for the University of Hawaii civil service.

Takushi, the youngest of eight children, was born on April 24, 1931 to Kamada and Kamata Takushi. He was reared in the Kalihi-River Street area when it was hustling with small businesses of immigrants from all walks of life. He and a band of friends were known as the “River Rats.” He loved music and played the saxophone and clarinet for a popular dance band called “The Pastels.” He graduated from Farrington High School in 1949. Takushi attended Los Angeles City College after his mentor, the late Charlie Clark, twisted his arm to enroll in college. He returned to Honolulu and attended the University of Hawaii and worked part-time at the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association’s industrial relations office. He observed firsthand the delicate balance of human and economic dynamics in union negotiations and management strategies from labor professionals. After his 1954 graduation from UH, he entered the U.S. Army and was stationed in Korea. Upon his honorable discharge, he worked for New York Life and then became a job analyst with Queen’s Hospital.

In 1969, Gov. Burns asked Takushi, the youngest in the Burns cabinet at age 38, to become the state Personnel Director, a position he served until December 1974. In serving three governors and two UH presidents as HR director, Takushi was a visionary and drew upon all his experiences to help the people of Hawaii through government employees. To foster pride and innovation and reward such, he created the State Employee of the Year Award under Gov. Burns, the Manager of the Year Award under Gov. Ariyoshi, and, sensing the changing ways that state agencies collaborated, the State Team of the Year award under Gov. Cayetano. Due to his knowledge of the state budget, staffing requirements, and employees’ and management needs, he started the state training program with top-notch training expertise in management, safety program, and then a consolidated state workers’ compensation program. The latter program began saving taxpayers from its second year, 1983. In the Cayetano administration, the workers’ compensation program saved $12 million in one year alone.

The “River Rat” from Kalihi rose from humble and adventurous beginnings. Honing his skills through hard work and experience, Takushi dedicated his life to helping the people of Hawaii.

Statement from Governor George R. Ariyoshi

I’ve known Jimmy Takushi for all of my political life and he’s been a close and dear friend to my family and me.

Back in my senatorial days, he was my campaign manager, and through my years in office as governor, he was a part of my cabinet. I knew he would do an excellent job because he was willing to do anything and go anywhere needed to help. As the state’s collective bargaining chief negotiator, he played a vital role in helping us to cut the cost of government operations tremendously. He had the ability to produce results that would benefit everyone – not just one side. His loyalty, courage, way with people, and his commitment to our state made a huge impact and impression that lives on to this day.

I’m very saddened by the news of his passing and am grateful I got to spend time with him on his last day. I’d like to extend much love and gratitude to him and his family for being a part of my life.

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