CONSUMER EDUCATOR: Creates Informed Consumers.
Wayne Fujikane is a consumer educator for the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs here. “I consider myself the luckiest person in the world,” said the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA)/AFSCME Local 152 executive board member. “I go out every day and talk to people. My days are never boring.
"A big chunk of my job is doing presentations to colleges and senior citizen groups on various topics—like the landlord-tenant code,” said Fujikane. “I reach 2-3,000 directly each year and 12-20,000 on the radio.”
Fujikane also teaches about a number of other consumer laws: “the gift certificate law, the door-to-door sales law,” and, he says, “One of the big booming businesses of the day is time-shares.”
But one of the most popular sessions he conducts is “How to save up to $10,000 on a brand new car.” Fujikane said participants never seem to snooze during that one. He gives some expected tips like, “You have to make a mental list of three to five different cars you want to buy; and study the car itself—How much does the car cost? How much do the options cost?” But he adds some negotiating skills: “You always ask the first question—’What cars do you have for sale, and what is the price?’ Then you say, ‘Thank you,’ and head for the door to see how desperate the salesperson is to sell a car.
"Buy the car at the end of the model year, in September,” he advises—and adds, “You can save up to $3,000 on color. Patience, opportunity, and perseverance [POP],” said Fujikane. “If you’ve got your POP, you can save money. You’ve got to use every source of information available.”
One of Fujikane’s goals is to make his office more user friendly. “We have to learn to adapt with the times. You have to learn to be technologically advanced. We’re looking for a system where you can get a fax on demand—forms to file complaints, etc. We’re becoming more productive in what we’re doing. Consumer education is more than just standing there and speaking,” he said. “It’s helping people, helping individuals.”
As with all professionals, Fujikane must keep sharpening his skills and learning new techniques. “I work part-time for the University of Hawaii,” he said, “and also for the Department of Education in their competency-based high school diploma program.”
He is very proud of his union involvement. “The union gives me a place to communicate with my colleagues,” said Fujikane. “We can get together and share problems and share successes. I’ve never regretted the fact that I joined AFSCME.” And he has found ways to combine his professional work with his union work.
"I do the Landlord-Tenant Course for AFSCME’s education program,” he said. “The members can use it if they’re having problems. We try to educate people to help themselves. AFSCME support is necessary. Members can see what AFSCME is doing for them. That builds solidarity.”