Hotel workers aren’t yet eligible for COVID vaccines in Hawaii. Should they be?

(Hawaii News Now) – By Samie Salinas. Hawaii hotel workers say if tourism is considered essential to the state, they should be prioritized for COVID vaccines.

Catholic Charities Hawaii successfully handled millions in COVID-19 rental assistance requests

(Hawaii Catholic Herald) – By Anna Weaver. CCH made sure to reach out to groups with members that might need rental assistance the most to encourage them to apply, for example, the Local 5 labor union representing hospitality, food service and healthcare workers, and Family Promise and the Susannah Wesley Community Center, both of which are nonprofits working with those in need, and the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii.

Kaiser agrees to keep services and staffing at Wailuku clinic

(Maui News) – By Lila Fujimoto. In September, Kaiser announced planned changes at its Wailuku clinic that would have eliminated 11 staff and technician positions and 17 registered and licensed practical nurses. Kaiser cited financial challenges, the cost of upgrading the Wailuku Medical Office and “the need to develop new ways to deliver care, improve efficiency and service, and reduce costs.” In response, Unite Here Local 5 and Hawaii Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Union, representing the employees, organized virtual meetings, sign-wavings and a caravan to protest the cuts.

Hawaii hotel industry struggling to bring workers back

(Hawaii News Now) – By Nikki Schenfeld. “We want healthy hotels, but if they don’t bring people back to work and restore our tax base, then all we have is tourists straining our infrastructure without employment to justify our expenditure for that,” he said.

Hawaii hotels have the lowest December occupancy rate in the nation

(Honolulu Star-Advertiser) – By Allison Schaefers. Local 5 spokesman Bryant de Venecia said some hotels have temporarily eliminated entire categories of workers. The union also is filing more grievances

For Immediate Release: Local 5 launches “Hawaii Workers Against COVID” website

UNITE HERE Local 5 offers the public and travelers an inside look of hotels’ health and safety protocols

Visit: Hawaiiworkersagainstcovid.org

(Honolulu) – UNITE HERE Local 5 launches new website that lets the public take an inside look at Hawaii’s hotels including the direct observations of hospitality workers. “Hawaii Workers Against COVID” offers a centralized site to check the quality of hotels’ self-declared safety protocols and cleaning standards, as well as their compliance with theprotocols they have published. As hospitality workers slowly return to work amidst the pandemic, the website allows them to rate hotels and submit reviews on cleanliness and safety measures based on first-hand workplace experience.

After the State of Hawaii reopened its doors to tourism, Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on November 23, 2020 requiring hotels to publish their COVID-19 Health & Safety plans and submit them to the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority. Despite the requirement,

there are numerous hotel properties whose protocols do not appear on the site.

UNITE HERE Local 5 President Gemma Weinstein shared, “This is about safety and transparency. Hotel companies are quick to brag about updated cleaning standards and safety protocols but what is important is that the policies on paper are put into practice. With the rise of COVID-19 cases both locally and in places where travelers are coming from, we want to make sure everyone is educated so they can make the right decisions.”

Union members started doing walkthroughs and inspections of hotel properties in June 2020. A few months later, UNITE HERE Local 5 released inspection findings based on the evidence that workers had gathered. The reports initially showed a diversity of issues in hotels like lack of signage, inadequate cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and lack of enforcement on mask wearing. Some issues were subsequently resolved.

The Union stresses the responsibility of hotels to take decisive action that will mitigate COVID-related health risks in their properties. There are many possible actions they can take, from cleaning and sanitizing to testing and contact tracing—to ensure the safety of guests, workers, and communities across Hawaii.

Weinstein added, “This is a public health and safety issue. The Hawaii community and travelers need to know what’s really happening inside the hotels. This website allows a space for hotel workers to speak up and report what they experience in their workplaces, both good and bad, for the benefit of our guests, our coworkers, and our families here in Hawai’i.”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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