As tourism continues to recover in Hawaiʻi, the state’s largest hospitality worker union is demanding hotels bring more of their employees back full time. (Read more)
UNITEHERE! Local 5
Press Release for April 14, 2022
Bryant de Venecia
UNITE HERE Local 5 Members joined Day of Action to demand the return of jobs and hotel services
Hundreds of Local 5 members rallied in Waikiki, joining 16 other cities in U.S. and Canada, to push hotel companies to bring back hotel services and jobs for hospitality workers
(Honolulu) – UNITE HERE Local 5 members joined 14 UNITE HERE locals in 16 cities across U.S. and Canada on a Day of Action. Workers rallied to shed light on hotels’ failure to bring back the workforce despite the hospitality industry’s recovery.
As visitors flood the streets of Waikiki and tourist spots return to their pre-pandemic traffic, hospitality workers are asking hotel companies why their full-time hours are not back and their coworkers are yet to return to their previous positions.
Workers called, “Full resort services now!” Despite average daily hotel rates rising up to 120%, many hotel amenities are not offered including automatic daily room cleaning, in-room dining, food and beverage outlets, banquets, and more—preventing thousands of workers from getting their full-time hours back.
Luz Rieza, a housekeeper at Hilton Hawaiian Village shared, “Hilton’s CEO Chris Nassetta earned more than $24 million in 2021, while the workers at Hilton Hawaiian Village—their most valuable property—struggled to make rent and put food on the table. We were furloughed for months and the company never offered any support, not even a single cent.”
Mary Taboniar, another housekeeper at Hilton added, “During the pandemic when occupancy was low, workers were left behind without any safety nets. We had to look for other jobs to survive. Now that tourism is booming again, these hotel companies are demanding that we prioritize them when it’s clear they are not prioritizing us. Hotels only give us 2 days of work a week. That’s not enough to survive.”
Eric Gill, UNITE HERE Local 5 Financial Secretary-Treasurer said, “At Local 5, we continue to build a better community for everyone, and we continue to struggle to improve Hawaii peoples’ lives. Our 2018 strike for “One Job Should Be Enough” addressed the multiple jobs our people must hold in order to make a living amid Hawaii’s high costs. We won historic gains. We are making progress.”
Last week, the Union won tentative agreements with Queen Kapiolani Hotel and Waikiki Resort Hotel, allowing workers whose contracts expired in 2018 to catch up with the Waikiki standard on wages and benefits. Contracts between Local 5 and big hotel properties like Hilton, Marriott/Kyoya, and Hyatt are set to expire on June 30, 2022.
“The global corporations that own and operate our hotels don’t care about improving our lives,” Gill added. “Corporations care about profit. Using the pandemic as their excuse, they have eliminated thousands of hotel jobs. Hotel profits are at record levels and Hawaii workers are paying the price.
“This is a terrible idea for Hawaii tourism. What Hawaii needs is more good union jobs for workers to provide the top-quality services that attract the visitors we want to come. The future of Hawaii tourism is at stake—will tourism serve the needs of Hawaii, or are we all to be just impoverished servants to tourists? Will it be the bright future we want, or the dark future our corporate bosses are trying to force on us?”
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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 300,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.
Bryant de Venecia
Cell Phone: (808) 546-0024
For videos of past actions: click here
Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel & UNITE HERE Local 5 Reach Tentative Agreement
UNITE HERE Local 5 and Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel are pleased to announce that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. Unionized workers at Queen Kapiʻolani voted by a 97% margin to authorize a strike last Friday.
Theresa Trimmer, a front desk supervisor for 20 years shared, “We will finally be catching up with the rest of Waikiki on wages and benefits. It was a long time coming, but worth all the early morning rallies and delegations we did.”
The new tentative agreement achieves workers’ goal of securing their jobs and will deliver good wage & benefit increases at the Local 5 standard set in 2018, with Local 5’s two island, five hotel 51-day strike of Kyo-ya owned hotels. Among the many improvements are improved workload standards for housekeeping, including a commitment to daily room cleaning, a reduction in the maximum assigned room credits in an 8-hour shift; recall rights of up 36 months; improvements to workplace safety; added protection against subcontracting; language regarding technology and automation changes, and various economic upgrades.
Lenie Rivera, a housekeeper for 20 years added, “We struggled a lot to win this contract, we rallied and we delegated the management numerous times. we did it because we are united…. One thing I learned from this fight is “where there is UNITY, there is always VICTORY because we are UNITE HERE.”
Jak Hu, General Manager, Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel said, “In the spirit of ongoing cooperation and support for our employees, Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel is pleased that we have reached a long-term agreement with UNITE HERE Local 5. The new contract allows us to meet the needs of our valued employees and continue to provide outstanding service to our guests. We are especially pleased that the term of the ratified contract ensures a strong partnership between Local 5 and Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel for many years to come. We all look forward to continuing to share the Aloha Spirit and island hospitality that kamaʻaina and visitors have come to expect while staying at Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel.”
UNITEHERE! Local 5
Press Release for April 1, 2022
Bryant de Venecia
Cell Phone: (808) 546-0024
Queen Kapiolani Hotel workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike, with 97% ‘YES’ votes
In 2018, Local 5 won the Waikiki Standard after a victorious 51-day strike.
Today, Queen Kapiolani hotel workers say, “It’s our time.”
(Honolulu, Hawaii) – UNITE HERE Local 5 members at Queen Kapiolani Hotel voted to authorize a strike, with 97% “YES” votes. The contract between the union and the company expired in 2018
“We are really behind from the rest of Waikiki,” said Theresa Trimmer, front desk supervisor at Queen Kapiolani for 20 years. She added, “We work just as hard and deserve the same respect. We’ve waited since 2018 to get a better contract.”
Amidst the pandemic, the occupancy at Queen Kapiolani hotel remained high, but wages and benefits have stagnated for the last four years. Housekeepers at the hotel reported heavy workloads—up to 17 rooms per shift compared to the 14 rooms that the rest of the housekeepers in most Local 5 Waikiki hotels clean.
“We are underpaid and overworked. Queen Kapiolani is a pet-friendly hotel, so the guest rooms are significantly harder to clean. We want a contract that addresses the workload issues and provides the wages and benefits we deserve.” said Christina Beltran, another housekeeper.
Lenie Rivera, a housekeeper at Queen Kapiolani added, “We will go on strike if this is the only way to move forward. We will not allow management to treat us like second-class workers anymore.”
Just last week, UNITE HERE Local 5 reached a tentative agreement with Waikiki Resort Hotel. The previous contract also expired in 2018. Collective bargaining agreements between the Local 5 and the big hotel properties like Hilton, Kyo-ya/Marriott, and Hyatt are set to expire in June 2022, affecting more than 5,000 hotel workers. If called, a strike by Queen Kapiolani workers will be Hawaii’s first hotel workers strike in years.
“Hospitality workers have suffered throughout the pandemic. We will not accept being made to suffer more now that business is coming back. Queen Kapiolani workers are standing together to show that we will not accept anything less than a contract that protects our jobs, our families, and our future. Their willingness to fight is a wake-up call for all hotel workers. It is also a warning to hotel owners and managers: Don’t try to use the pandemic excuse to attack Hawaii workers. We will fight to defend our jobs and protect our community.” said Eric Gill, UNITE HERE Local 5’s Financial Secretary-Treasurer.
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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