The purpose of Unity House Incorporated (UHI) is TO PROMOTE THE TRUE AND PROPER INTEREST OF AND TO ASSIST THE WORKING INDIVIDUALS OF THE STATE OF HAWAII by raising their standard of living and working conditions, by seeking to enhance the quality and quantity of jobs in the State of Hawaii…by assisting working individuals, beneficiaries and their families when in trouble and need or in distress; by providing suitable quarters for the meeting, assembling, recreation, and education of beneficiaries and their families and by developing a code of ethics among the beneficiaries and by wholeheartedly cooperating in every way with the unions in which working individuals may be members.
TO SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, to promote democratic principles, and to inspire in its beneficiaries a sense of civic responsibility; securing and retaining the goodwill, confidence and respects of the community in the democracy and integrity of its beneficiaries; investigating and studying all pending and existing legislative and political matters affecting the community… proposing legislation for the benefit and welfare of the community…bringing to the knowledge of the people of the State of Hawaii that the beneficiaries are hardworking people desirous of improving their way of life for themselves and their families…creating harmony and seeking the cooperation of public officials in the attainment of these ideals…and cooperating with all other organizations which have for their fundamental principles and ideals the American form of government.
Founded by the late Arthur A. Rutledge, Unity House Incorporated is a Hawaii non-profit corporation which has been serving Hawaii’s people since 1951. Rutledge was eulogized and mourned by lawmakers and union leaders, by friends and foes, and by employers and working men and woman. While everyone had a different and personal view of him, all would agree that he was a unique man whose life’s work had left an indelible imprint on the history of the State of Hawaii.
It was Rutledge’s destiny that as unionism became a powerful force in Hawaii during the 20th Century; he was present at the creation and became one of the architects of Hawaii’s union movement.
While always saying that his goals and objective were only to improve the wages and benefits of his members, Rutledge, when he was successful (and that was most of the time), was always setting a new standard by which all other union contracts in Hawaii were compared. If this were all that he did, it was enough to carve a place in Hawaii’s history. But his achievements must be viewed in broader terms. For what he achieved with the creation of Unity House went far beyond the imagination of most of the leaders of his time.
Today, Unity House is viewed as a benevolent organization that seeks to provide a variety of programs and activities for its beneficiaries so that the quality of life will be improved for their families. However, that was not always the case. During his lifetime, Rutledge had many battles about Unity House, what it was and who would benefit. He endured congressional and governmental inquiries and a variety of lawsuits from those who did not share his direction for the organization.
Each time, he prevailed and Unity House, as a result of his financial acumen, prospered. Infact, many of these battles where shared and endured by his son Anthony “Tony” Rutledge, before and after the passing of Arthur Rutledge in 1997.
Rutledge gave much credit to his success with Unity House to prominent employers and business men, such as Henry J. Kaiser, Roy Kelly, Harry Weinberg and Edward Hastings, who helped him understand the business world a lot better, giving him a deeper appreciation of the “bigger picture” and the need for labor to develop more of a cooperative rather than adversarial relationship with management so that Hawaii’s industries could continue to drive.
It was this world view that helped guide Rutledge in the development and sale of the Waikiki Marina Hotel, which was owned by Unity House. He built the hotel during the thriving growth years of tourism in Hawaii. It operated successfully for two decades before the demand for commercial properties such as hotels had increased dramatically in the 1980’s. Rutledge listened to offers for many years and finally sold just as the real estate market was starting to decline. The hotel sale provided the financial “nest egg” for Unity House so that programs could be offered to beneficiaries.
In his final years, when the scholarships, child care grants, housing and family activities were offered to the beneficiaries, more people now understood his vision and what he was trying to accomplish.
Because of the long mutual history of the unions and Unity House, the current Bylaws of Unity House provide the members and retires of UNITE H.E.R.E., Local 5, and the Hawaii Teamsters, Local 996 as life-long beneficiaries of Unity House.
In the coming year, as a fitting tribute to honor the memory Arthur A. Rutledge and what he has done, the newly Reconstituted Board of Directors will be exploring various ideas in expanding their programs to its beneficiaries.