UNITEHERE! Local 5
Press release for September 6, 2021
Bryant de Venecia
Cell Phone: (808) 546-0024
On Labor Day, labor unions call on employers and state to help workers
Employers have been using the pandemic as an excuse to cut jobs and state lawmakers have done little to address this
(Honolulu) – Hospitality and healthcare workers organized live and virtual actions to commemorate Labor Day. Dozens of workers statewide joined a Facebook Live event hosted by UNITE HERE Local 5. Around 25 Kaiser Permanente workers sign waved in front of Kaiser’s Honolulu clinic to call on Kaiser to invest in patient care and healthcare workers.
Labor Day is supposed to commemorate workers and the American labor movement. But since the onset of COVID-19, employers have been using the pandemic as an excuse to cut jobs and state lawmakers have done little to address this.
PEUC benefits expired on Labor Day, affecting thousands of Hawaii workers who are still furloughed and will now receive hundreds of dollars less per week from unemployment. State lawmakers also allowed the eviction moratorium to expire.
Union members expressed that they feel left behind in the pandemic and want to push state lawmakers and employers to take care of workers—especially as COVID cases increase, hotel occupancy plummets, and employers continue to use the pandemic to cut jobs.
Local 5 called on union members to email Governor David Ige, Speaker of the House Scott Saiki, and Senate President Ron Kouchi to ask them to fund additional unemployment benefits and release a detailed plan on how the State will take care of workers
They also called on the community to stand with Kaiser Permanente workers by signing a petition calling on Kaiser to invest in patient care and healthcare workers. The union contract for nearly 2,000 Kaiser Permanente workers represented by Local 5 expires on September 30, 2021.
Stephanie Meredith, a Ward Clerk at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Hospital shared, “We did a sign waving action in front of Honolulu clinic to push Kaiser Permanente. We need better staffing to support healthcare workers as we provide the best patient care, especially now as the COVID cases are hitting our communities hard and impacting our healthcare heroes even harder. We have members working long shifts for 10 days straight—that is unacceptable.”
Mary Taboniar, a housekeeper at Hilton Hawaiian Village and a single mother of two shared, “The federal unemployment benefits ends today and we’re not getting any hours from work. I called the unemployment office and they told me that the only option is to look for other jobs. But what other jobs are out there other than minimum wage? That’s not enough to provide for our families. It’s time for our state leaders to step up and support Hawaii workers.”
Local 5 members also celebrated being Hawaii’s Best Union six years in a row and Local 5’s active response to the pandemic, which included securing healthcare coverage, rental assistance, filing for unemployment, and much more.
Local 5 represents approximately 12,000 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international union that represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.
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