Thu. 7/2/20: COVID-19 update


Dozens of UNITE HERE Local 5 hospitality workers, non-union hotel workers, and community supporters sign-waved and chanted to protest the job cuts at reopening hotels. View the photos on our Facebook page.


Hospitality workers protest job cuts as hotels plan to reopen – KITV

Excerpt: “UNITE HERE Local 5 says some hotels are permanently laying off workers and asking them to reapply for their jobs once they reopen, so hospitality workers, non-union hotel workers and other community members are waiving signs and chanting Thursday afternoon.”

The Cash Cliff Is Coming, And It’s Trouble For Everyone – Reuters.

This article features Judith and Jose Ramirez from the Sheraton Waikiki.

Excerpt: “Judith Ramirez is bracing for July. That’s when the hotel housekeeper and her electrician husband ― who have both been out of work for three months ― expect their combined unemployment benefits to drop by more than half, and their deferred $1,500 monthly mortgage payment on their Honolulu home to come due. It’s a cash cliff millions of Americans face this summer as the emergency benefits ― which lifted U.S. consumer incomes by a record 10.8% in April ― expire.”

Coronavirus cases are rising in 40 of 50 U.S. states – Associated Press

Excerpt: “The number of confirmed coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. climbed to an all-time high of more than 50,000 today.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announces mandate to wear face coverings indoors –  Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Excerpt: “Mayor Kirk Caldwell today announced an amendment to Honolulu’s emergency order that mandates face coverings for indoor businesses and government buildings, as well as outdoors, where physical distancing is not practicable.”

UH Releases Plan For ‘Unprecedented Semester’ – Honolulu Civil Beat. 

Excerpt: “UH is working to partner with local hotels to provide places for students arriving in the fall to spend their 14-day quarantine if on-campus spaces are unavailable. There are no contracts in place yet, Lassner said.”

Opinion: The role of labour activism in Vietnam’s coronavirus success – By Joe Buckley, published in Equal Times. 

Vietnam has had 334 cases of COVID-19 total. The U.S. had over 2,800,000 cases and over 50,000 yesterday alone. Workers have in several cases done wildcat strikes over safety concerns and won things like adequate PPE, testing and compensation.

The Trump Administration Wants Workers to Foot the Bill for Going Back to Work – Jacobin. 

Excerpt: “Many businesses want their workers to be screened for the virus before returning to workplaces, where they could unknowingly spread the disease to coworkers and customers. But thanks to a new Trump administration guidance, if businesses do require their employees to undergo coronavirus tests before being rehired, employers or their employees — not health insurers — could end up paying for it.

Airbnb to enforce TVR listings – The Garden Island. 

Airbnb appears to be agreeing to do something on Kauai that they have said for years they either couldn’t or wouldn’t do anywhere ever – collect address information from hosts and turn it over to county enforcement agencies.

COVID Cases (today’s cases compared to June 28, 2020)

World: Cases:  10.8M (+500k). Deaths: 520k (+15k).

USA: Cases: 2.73M (+140k).  Deaths: 128k (+2k).

Hawaii: Cases: 946(+46).  Deaths: 18 (+0).  Hospitalized: 116 (+5). Recovered: 746 (+24)

Mon. 6/29/20: COVID-19 update


We posted a new resource on our Local 5 webpage: Any persons receiving SNAP (Food Stamps/EBT) benefits are eligible to receive 50% of locally grown produce at participating grocery stores when they present DA BUX card.

Most current SNAP holders should have automatically received a Double Up Food Bucks card in the mail sent by DHS. If you have not, please contact Latonya Smith at (808)201-3937 x 14. Click here for the flyer.


Union expresses concern about hotel worker safety (KITV, June 28 2020)

Excerpt: “Unite Here Local 5 claims it has reached out to several major hotels asking to be part of the discussion about new safety policies regarding COIVD-19 but says only one agreed to discuss.”

Union organizes mass COVID-19 testing for hospitality workers, it calls on employers to follow suit (KHON 2, June 25, 2020)

Excerpt: “The union leaders of Unite Here Local Five said they are stepping-up where hotel employers are not, they are organizing mass COVID-19 testing for hospitality workers and their families this Saturday [June 27, 2020] in anticipation of tourism reopening.”

Interviews with Union Leaders: Gemma Weinstein, Union President, Unite Here Local 5 (Hawaii Business Magazine, June 29, 2020)

Excerpt from Local 5 President Gemma Weinstein’s interview with Hawaii Business Magazine: “In the process of reopening our hospitality industry, the state should be involved in enforcing the health and safety protocols and holding our employers accountable in keeping our state COVID-free. Workers shouldn’t have to choose between health and wealth. Workers can have these both only if government and employers will do the right thing. Test, Test, Test.”

Vacant Waikiki building slated to be a Marriott timeshare trades for $75M (Pacific business News, June 29, 2020)

A delayed news article on the ownership of the Nike town building slated to become a 110-unit Marriott timeshare.   Reports that Athos Capital Partners is the current owner.  No building permits have been filed yet, according to the article.

AirBnB: New rules in place to help regulate Kaua’i short-term rentals (KITV, June 29, 2020)

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, rental hosts without a valid Tax Map Key (TMK) will be removed from the AirBnB platform. Hosts will have to input a TMK number on the listing page to appear on the website. Kaua’i allows short-term rentals in designated areas. The new agreement is said to make it easier for the county to keep track of listings outside of those areas.

The plan for testing visitors is still murky, but bookings are already coming in (Hawaii News Now, June 29, 2020)

The article gives zero background on visitor bookings, except to say that “visitors are booking vacations to Hawaii in August.”

Unemployment office changes call center hours while new issues delay payments (Hawaii News Now, June 29, 2020)

Blocks of time will now be used to make outgoing calls from the UI office. No incoming calls are allowed during those times.

State Teachers Union, DOE Agree To Reopening Terms (Civil Beat, June 29, 2020)

Social distancing, hand washing, and face masks in the classrooms/schools among other rules are included in this agreement.

American joins United in plans to fill planes to capacity (ABC, News 6/28/20)

American and United will start filling their planes with no social distancing gaps in seating starting July 1st, as the U.S. has just reached record number of COVID cases. Other airlines will maintain their seating caps for some time longer. There will be some policies for flyers to avoid crowded flights if possible.

COVID Cases (since June 28, 2020)

World: Cases:  10.3M (+200k). Deaths: 505k (+4k).

USA: Cases: 2.59M (+90k).  Deaths: 126k (+300).

Hawaii: Cases:  900(+1).  Deaths: 18 (+0).  Hospitalized: 111 (+0). Recovered: 722 (+3)

Mon. 6/22/20: COVID-19 update


Last Friday, we hosted a worker-centered Mayoral Forum with six candidates of the Honolulu Mayoral Race. They were asked questions about issues that impact Hawaii’s working families. If you missed it live, you can still watch the recording here.


Gov. David Ige reportedly close to announcing testing protocol, loosened quarantine (Star Adv. 6/22/20)

“Gov. David Ige’s administration is poised to adopt a COVID-19 testing protocol similar to one being used by Alaska, and is expected to announce as early as this week that at least some travelers will be allowed to bypass Hawaii’s two-week quarantine requirement this summer if they provide proof of a recent negative test for the new coronavirus.

Anderson said about one-third of travelers to Alaska have been providing proof of a recent test, and about one-third agree to be tested at the airport and isolate until they receive the test results. The rest of the travelers simply agree to remain in quarantine for two weeks, he said.”

Honolulu City Council takes aim at new regulations against monster homes (Hawaii News Now, 6/22/20)

“Even after the city passed a law regulating monster homes last year, some say the problem still persists. They have introduced a measure that would make it a crime for anyone who builds a home that does not comply with the restrictive deed covenants.  That bill targets foreign investors, who have built a large number of monster homes in Hawaii.”

Extra $100 weekly payments for unemployed individuals could be on the way (6/22/20)

“Extra weekly payments of $100 for residents on unemployment could be on the way starting August 1st. House and Senate leaders plan to set aside $230 million in Federal CARES Act money to give extra assistance to an estimated 117,000 unemployed individuals across the state.

The plan also sets $100 million aside to help more than 34,000 households pay their rents. Lawmakers say the state’s most “financially vulnerable” households will receive rental assistance in the form of a $500 monthly subsidy or 50% of rent for up to five months from August 1 to December 31.”

How 12 Teens Who’d Never Met Before Organized Honolulu’s Black Lives Matter Protest (Civil Beat, 6/22/20)

The 10,000-person strong Black Lives Matter march was organized by some Radford High School students. It mentions some support from other organizations like Coronacare Hawaii and Ikaika Hussey, who assisted the students as an individual but a member from Unite Here Local 5.

Half of US states see coronavirus surge as officials warn first wave far from over (Guardian, 6/22/20)

“I don’t think we’re going to see one, two and three waves. I think we’re going to just see one very, very difficult forest fire of cases.”

After Weeks Of No New Cases Of COVID-19 In New Zealand, 2 Arrivals Test Positive (NPR, June 19, 2020)

New Zealand did a great job containing the virus and recently went 24 days with no active cases in the county, until two travelers entered without testing and quarantine on a funeral exemption were later found to be COVID positive.

LIST: Bars, gyms among facilities allowed to reopen on Oahu on Friday (Hawaii News Now, June 19, 2020)

  • Bars are allowed to reopen, but live music is being prohibited for now.
  • Fitness facilities, including gyms, spas, yoga, dance studios, hula halau and other similar fitness centers can resume operations
  • Education and care facilities can reopen.
  • Indoor attractions such as bowling alleys, arcades, movie theatres, museums are allowed to reopen.
  • Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people in one group, regardless of households, are now allowed. However, indoor events of more than 50 people are still not allowed in one venue.
  • Outdoor organized team sports can resume for practice only. Games will be allowed in July.

Caldwell Pulls Plug On Sherwood Forest Project (Civil Beat, June 19, 2020)

Protestors get big win in Waimanalo, defeating a stupid sports complex redevelopment of Sherwood Forest.

Amendments to a plan could create 400-foot towers at Ala Moana Center (Star Advertiser, June 19, 2020)

The publicly traded owner of Ala Moana Mall wants to build five towers of 400 feet each on the mall property fronting Ala Moana Beach Park, this could include condo-tels. The whole council committee that held this hearing expressed concerns and deferred the decision.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases:  9.0M (+400k). Deaths: 471k (+22k).

USA: Cases: 2.31M (+90k).  Deaths: 120.4 (+1.3k).

Hawaii: Cases:  816 (+27).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 99 (+3). Recovered: 669 (+27)

Thu. 6/18/20: COVID-19 update


Our next Facebook Live will be a worker-centered Mayoral Forum tomorrow (Fri. 6/19), 7pm-8:30pm. Candidates of the Honolulu Mayoral Race will be asked questions about issues that impact Hawaii’s working families. Watch it live and ask your questions:


‘Dreamers’ cheer US court ruling on young immigrants’ protections – Al Jazeera

Excerpt: “With a 5-4 vote, judges blocked the Trump administration’s bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a programme that shields hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.”

Growing COVID-19 Cluster at Oahu Nursing Home Sets Off Warning Signs – Honolulu Civil Beat

The article mentions how workers having multiple jobs, especially in multiple health care facilities, is a risk in spreading the pandemic—another reason why one job should be enough. According to KHON, there are now a total of 12 cases of COVID-19 at Hale Nani: 8 residents and 4 workers.

Reports: Thousands More Likely To Soon Suffer Severe Financial Hardship In Hawaii – Honolulu Civil Beat

Excerpt: “But the organization [Aloha United Way] predicts that some 225,000 Hawaii households could find themselves in precarious financial straits by the end of 2020, and those lucky enough to be working still struggling to make ends meet, with little financial cushion.”

As 45 million lost their jobs over the last three months, US billionaires grew $584 billion richer –

Excerpt: “Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison—the five wealthiest billionaires in the U.S.—saw their collective riches grow by $101.7 billion between March 18 and June 17, according to the new report. A dozen other American billionaires saw their wealth more than double during that same period.”

Excerpt: “Frank Clemente, ATF executive director, said in a statement that over the past three months, ‘about 600 billionaires increased their wealth by far more than the nation’s governors say their states need in fiscal assistance to keep delivering services to 330 million residents.'”

Even with ruling, workplace still unequal for LGBTQ workers – Associated Press

Excerpt: “For instance, the federal law doesn’t protect those who work at businesses with fewer than 15 workers. It doesn’t address bathrooms for transgender people. And it’s still an open question whether employers can fire an LGBTQ person for religious reasons.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 8.4M (+300k). Deaths: 453k (+12k).

USA: Cases: 2.18M (+50k).  Deaths: 118.4k (+1.5k).

Hawaii: Cases: 762 (+18).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 95 (+3). Recovered: 640 (+3)

Tue. 6/16/20: COVID-19 update


Our next Facebook Live will be a worker-centered Mayoral Forum this Fri. 6/19, 7pm-8:30pm. Candidates of the Honolulu Mayoral Race will be asked questions about issues that impact Hawaii’s working families. Watch it live and ask your questions:


Hundreds of Local 5 members organized protests on Oahu, Maui, and Big Island to send a strong message to government leaders to prioritize public health & safety of workers before reopening Hawaii tourism.

Our actions even made international news. Read below for news highlights. Click here for photos of our actions. Click here to watch a video of our Capitol Caravan.


Local 5 members were the fortunate recipients of three food distributions over the last three weeks. All were designated for furloughed Local 5 members only.

Big shout out to Kaiser Permanente Hawaii who organized the distributions on May 31 and June 7. Also a big mahalo to Tiffany Trang from Accounting Management LLC, her family and friends who contributed to make the distribution on June 13 possible and to Kamaka Air who made the site arrangement.

Local 5 members are grateful to all who donated funds and time to these 3 events.


Hotel workers rally for safe reopening, health care – The Maui News

Good Maui News story about our Maui car caravan action. Hawaii News Now also covered the event via the Associated Press.

Hotel workers protest, calling for protection ahead of tourism restart – Hawaii News Now

Hawaii News Now also reported on the Oahu caravan action. KHON2 ran the story as well. Clarification on Eric Gill’s quote in the article: at least five NON-UNION hotels so far have already given workers notice that they’re permanently discharged and they have to apply for their jobs again.

First day of quarantine-free travel between islands begins – KHON2

Excerpt: “Tuesday was the first day you could travel between the islands without having to quarantine. But you’ll need to fill out a form and get your temperature checked. Some passengers tell us they didn’t have trouble with the new procedure. A state department of transportation representative said on Tuesday morning, it was also going well. Still, travelers should come to the airport early and have those mandatory forms ready for a smoother process.”

Corporations Are Claiming “Black Lives Matter.” That Would Be News to Their Workers. – Jacobin

Excerpt: “So unions clearly empower African Americans—yet Walmart, Amazon, and McDonald’s are unabashed union-busters. In order to crush organizing efforts (very often led by people of color), these companies invest far more in lawyers, consulting firms, and employee surveillance than they’ll ever dish out to promote “diversity.””

Sen. Laura Thielen: Legislature Has A Chance To Do Its Job Right – opinion piece by Sen. Laura Thielen, published in Honolulu Civil Beat

A quote from this opinion piece by Senator Laura Thielen, who was a guest on one of our recent Facebook Live Town Halls: “The $632 million in federal COVID money should be used to keep residents, local businesses and nonprofits afloat.”

Third COVID-19 Case Confirmed At Oahu Nursing Home – Honolulu Civil Beat

Two patients and one nurse at Hale Nani Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, a Local 5 property, have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Wynn Las Vegas first resort to reopen buffet (KHON, June 15, 2020)

New buffet format is all you can order with food brought to the table instead of self serve.

Hotels address health and hygiene concerns in a post COVID-19 world  (Star Advertiser, June 15, 2020)

Best Western predicts its safety protocol will increase room cleaning time by 50%. One example adding to cleaning time is how new chemicals being used now require sitting time on surfaces to be effective. The article talks about the general guidelines offered by corporate offices and the inevitable variation in execution by various managers or franchisees, as well as independent hotel variances.

Record spikes in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations sweep parts of U.S. (AOL, June 15, 2020)

“Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas and Utah all had a record number of patients enter the hospital on Saturday. In South Carolina, 69% to 77% of hospital beds are occupied, depending on the region.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 8.1M (+100k). Deaths: 441k (+5k).

USA: Cases: 2.13M (+20k).  Deaths: 116.9k (+800).

Hawaii: Cases:  740 (+4).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 92 (+1). Recovered: 637 (+7)

Statement on Black Lives Matter

Local 5 members at Kaiser Permanente Honolulu clinic wore black in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

UNITE HERE Local 5 condemns the government murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the latest in a sickening string of repeated police atrocities against Black Americans. We reject this police violence as a terrorist crime intended to intimidate Black communities from fighting for fairness and equality. Black Lives Matter for us.

George Floyd’s murder shocked people all around the world into action. Hundreds of thousands have turned out to protest. We are inspired by the courage and determination shown by people worldwide who are risking their lives and health to protest the routine brutalization and murder of citizens by our government.

The live-on-camera brutality displayed by George Floyd’s murderers revealed the true nature of our government’s attitude to peoples’ rights. Now everyone has seen what Black Americans have known for centuries: the government can casually kill you and get away with it.

Justice-loving Americans have turned out in force to join the Black community in outrage about police murder, only to be met with more government violence. So now we know it’s not just Black people whose rights are being trampled. The government will gas you and shoot you if you protest government atrocities, no matter the color of your skin, even if you are protesting “peacefully”.

In our union, we know from experience that we get nowhere fighting the boss one-by-one. Our power depends on our ability to gather our numbers. If they take away our ability to demonstrate and protest as a group, they take away our power. And that’s what they are doing when they attack peaceful protesters—trying to intimidate all of us from turning out to fight for our rights.

As people around the world join Americans in the fight to finally put an end to the disgusting government terrorism campaign against our Black communities, we now know that when we fight for the rights of Black people, we are fighting for the rights of everybody.

Let’s defeat racism and the other things that divide us. Let’s stand together to make our government stop its violence against our communities. Together, we can make our government “of the people, by the people and for the people” the way it is supposed to be.