Press Release for July 10, 2021
Bryant de Venecia
UNITE HERE Local 5 hospitality and health care workers sign wave in Waianae to protect local jobs
(Waianae, HI) – More than 300 UNITE HERE Local 5 members sign wave in Waianae to send a message that workers are standing up against large corporations taking advantage of the pandemic. Members from a dozen labor unions across industries joined in solidarity as hospitality and healthcare workers fight to keep their jobs.
The state has seen an influx of travelers to the islands with some hotels getting up to 100% occupancy rates. In spite of this, hotels are not bringing all the hospitality workers back to work. Almost 4,000 Local 5 members in the tourism industry are still waiting to get recalled. Meanwhile, in the health care industry, Local 5 members at Kaiser Permanente are fighting to keep local jobs in Hawaii after the company announced their plan to outsource dozens of jobs to California.
Local 5 members chose to organize the action in Waianae to stand in solidarity with the west side community. Kaiser Permanente abandoned the leeward coast residents by choosing to keep the Nanaikeola clinic closed. In addition to fighting for local jobs, union members are demanding to reinstate the community’s access to healthcare.
Sheena Mae Lapitan, a Licensed Practical Nurse who used to work at Kaiser Nanaikeola clinic shared, “Kaiser Nanaikeola has been providing healthcare to our west side community for many years. As a Waianae resident, I know all too well of how traffic and road work can affect our way of living. We rely heavily on our local west side businesses, and the closing of this clinic means less healthcare access for our community. For decades, the Nanaikeola clinic has served our west side families and it should reopen to continue serving the next generations to come.”
Zena Nasau, a hotel worker at Airport Plaza hotel for 19 years and a resident at the Nanakuli Homesteads shared, “From access to health care, unemployment, environmental issues, to homelessness—the Leeward coast is an intersection of social issues. Big corporations like the hotels and Kaiser Permanente are using this pandemic as an excuse to implement changes that make it harder for our community to survive. Our Union is showing that we are standing up and we’re not going anywhere, even if our state and industry leaders already abandoned us.”
Local 5 members also donated hygiene items and canned goods to the local homeless resource center to be distributed to our community members in need. The action was participated by several Hawaii labor unions including Hawaii State AFL-CIO, Hawaii Nurses & Health care Professionals(HNHP), Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP), AFA-HAL Council 43 (Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants), UFCW Local 480 (United Food and Commercial Workers), IAM Local Lodge 1998, APWU (Hawaii Based Postal Workers), Bricklayers Local 1, Musicians Union Local 677, IATSE Local 665, IBEW Local 1260, and other local labor unions.
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.
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(The Guardian) – By Michael Sainato. Julie Gabot has worked as a housekeeper at the Marriott-operated Sheraton Waikiki for over 30 years. She was recalled to work in November, but said many of her co-workers have yet to be recalled even as the hotel occupancy rates have recovered, and she’s been faced with higher workloads.
(NBC Nightly) – As Americans go on vacation for the Fourth of July holiday, many are noticing big changes at hotels across the country. Hotels have cut classic perks such as breakfast buffets, minibars, and even daily housekeeping to stay safe and afloat.
Some workers not called back full-time as hotels skip daily cleaning of rooms — ‘It’s a double whammy’ for the ‘exact same communities that have been hurt and most affected by the pandemic,’ union official says (Read more)
(Blue Planet Foundation) – Julie Gabot has been riding the bus for over 33 years to get from her home in Ewa Beach to her workplace at Sheraton Waikiki and back. Julie likes riding the bus because she can save money on gas and parking, she can talk story with her friends, and she can take naps — none of which would be possible if she was driving. Mahalo, Julie, for taking steps to help Hawaii reach it’s 100% clean energy goals!