Press Statement – August 21, 2020


Media Contact:

Bryant de Venecia

Cell Phone: (808) 546-0024

[email protected]

UNITE HERE Local 5 Statement on Enhanced Movement Quarantine/Resort Bubble Plan

Our state has not been able to organize effective testing programs, conduct consistent contact tracing or enforce quarantine measures. Many thousands of families have lost health care coverage at the height of a global pandemic—even at state-owned facilities like the airport.

Despite these unsolved problems and even as the virus is spreading among our most vulnerable people, the State is proceeding with hastily conceived “travel bubble” plans to open up travel.  These plans fail at first glance, as they contain no provisions ensuring the safety of workers and the loved ones we rejoin when we pau work.

Our jobs won’t come back until we have proved that we can keep COVID-19 under control—the visitors we will get while the disease is raging are those we don’t want—the ones who don’t care about their safety, or ours.

The state and business leaders have now rushed to announce plans that they will have to cancel as the COVID-19 pandemic gets deeper and more dangerous.  They need to take a deep breath, do what is needed to get the outbreak under control, make sure Hawaii’s people have health care, and get the people most concerned with visitor industry safety—Hawaii’s hospitality workers—involved in the detailed planning needed to operate tourism safely.

Hawaii is blowing our one chance to get it right.  It is no virtue to announce vague and poorly planned measures that cannot work.  Hopefully, it’s not too late to get back to the drawing board.


# # #

UNITE HERE 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.


7/23 COVID-19 Update


We hosted a forum for the Honolulu Prosecutor’s race candidates. Watch the full recording here: www.facebook.com/uniteherehawaii/live



Take Action: Call 415-763-5949 and tell the Senate to pass the HEROES Act today to extend the $600 unemployment checks past July 31, protect healthcare and so much more.



Hotel Union Unite Here Says Mask Mandates Aren’t Enough for Worker Safety – Skift

– Excerpt: “Unite Here’s cleanliness demands are about raising U.S. and Canadian hotel cleaning standards to those in Asian markets like China and Singapore, [D.] Taylor said. ‘Haven’t we learned already about what happens if you cut corners and don’t do the kind of cleaning we’re advocating?’ he added in reference to the rising case count in the U.S.”


Hawaii Reports Record 55 COVID-19 Cases In One Day – Honolulu Civil Beat


Union [construction] Labor Now Required On Big Honolulu Public Works Jobs – Honolulu Civil Beat

– Excerpt: “Manahan said he backed the idea because unions stand between workers and ‘unscrupulous’ employers. ‘I really believe in what unions do,’ he said.”


U.S. Hotels Push Hard for Industry-Specific Relief Fund From Congress – Skift

– The American Hotel & Lodging Association is lobbying for the next relief package to include more PPP money for hotel companies, a relief fund for CMBS loans, tax incentives for abiding by AHLA’s safety protocols and liability protections for hotels against coronavirus exposure lawsuits.


Landlords jump the gun as eviction moratorium wanes – The New York Times

– Excerpt: “As the number of Covid-19 cases has surged across the country, a disturbing trend has emerged: landlords commencing eviction proceedings even though the coronavirus relief law known as the CARES Act currently protects about 12 million tenants living in qualifying properties.”


AP Exclusive: Migrant Kids Held in US Hotels, Then Expelled – Associated Press

– The three hotels were all Hampton Inns. Hampton Inn is a Hilton brand, but Hilton does not own or operate any of those three hotels.


To Fight Racial Inequality, We Have to Attack the Power of Corporations – Jacobin

– Excerpt: “Blackstone’s very business model turbocharged racial inequality: First, snatch up foreclosed homes in black neighborhoods (in the process driving up housing prices and making it harder for families looking to buy their first house). Second, lease them out while jacking up the rent (and skimping out on repairs). Third, hit tenants with late fees and evictions when they can’t keep up with the inflated rents.”


Flight attendant linked to cluster at Hawaiian Airlines training program dies after testing positive for COVID-19 – Honolulu Star-Advertiser.  

– Excerpt: “Airline staff members were exposed at the training session where ‘physical distancing was not practiced and masks were optional,’ according to the state Department of Health. Those employees then exposed eight household members who tested positive. An infected person who attended the training session sparked outbreaks at two Oahu gyms with 20 positive cases, the DOH said.”


Mon. 7/20/20: COVID-19 update


We are hosting a Honolulu Prosecutor Candidate Forum this Thursday, July 23 at 7pm live on our Facebook Page. Watch it live and write any questions or comments in the comments section: http://facebook.com/uniteherehawaii/live


Kaiser Permanente donates 1,000 boxes of produce to local hospitality workers (KITV, July 20, 2020)

“1,000 boxes of fresh produce were given out at Kaiser Permanente’s Waipio medical office. It’s part of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program facilitated by Ham Produce to benefit UNITE HERE Local 5 workers struggling due to the closure of Hawaii’s visitor industry.”

Growing Body Of Evidence Suggests Masks Protect Those Wearing Them, Too (July 20, 2020)

Viral loads and the amount of virus a person gets will affect the severity of their illness, according to this interview of a UCSF doctor: “The less virus that you get in, the less sick you’re likely to be.” It references a study showing that in a population with 100% mask wearing compliance, 95% of positive cases in the population were asymptomatic because the viral loads were so low.

Workers protest racial inequality on day of national strike (Associated Press, July 20, 2020)

“Organizers said at least 20,000 workers in 160 cities walked off the job, inspired by the racial reckoning that followed the deaths of several Black men and women at the hands of police. The Strike for Black Lives was organized or supported by more than 60 labor unions and social and racial justice organizations, which held a range of events in more than two dozen cities. Support swelled well beyond expectations, organizers said, although a precise participation tally was not available.”

Vegas casino union reports 22 deaths of workers, relatives (News 3 Las Vegas, July 20, 2020)

UNITE HERE Local 226 in Las Vegas has lost 22 members and/or family members of union members to COVID.

Election ballots going out earlier than expected (Star Advertiser, July 17 2020)

Explains some of the timing and reasons for early ballot mailings in Hawaii.

Hawaii Unemployment Rate Unexpectedly Drops (KITV, July 17, 2020)

The numbers released today showed the state unemployment rate going from 23.5% in May to just 13.9% in June, a difference of about 40%.

Excerpt: Interim DLIR Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio admitted today the numbers could be off, saying “You know those unemployment rates are determined through a survey done by the Census bureau, so we’re not sure if we’re 100% confident with that number.

COVID Cases (numbers since July 17)

World: Cases:  14.6M . Deaths: 609k (+8k).

USA: Cases: 3.82M (+180k).  Deaths: 141k (+1.9k).

Hawaii: Cases:  1,393 (+59).  Deaths: 24 (+1).  Hospitalized: 150 (+11). Recovered: 1,057 (+63)

Thu. 7/16 COVID-19 Update

2020 election ballots have started to arrive.  Look for yours in the mail and refer to Local 5’s primary Election endorsement. 

Local 5 union pushes for safety, job security – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

– Good article about yesterday’s actions, with quotes from Affron Herring and Eric Gill.


Workers call for extended health coverage as the closure drags on – The Maui News

– Good article from the Maui News about yesterday’s actions, with very good quotes from Celia Cabal-Arcilla and Eric Gill. There is also something from ILWU.


Some Hawaii state senators blast reopening plans – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

– Excerpt: “We cannot force people to be tested,” [Dept. of Health epidemiologist Dr. Sarah] Park testified. Those who refuse a secondary COVID-19 test will be “given some guidance, some information and then sent on their way,” she said.

Committee chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, replied: ‘That means they’re roaming about.’

To which Park replied, ‘We don’t have proof that it’s COVID, so we can’t keep them.'”


Teachers Unions Look Like the Last Line of Defense in Trump’s “Reckless” School Reopening Crusade – In These Times

– With the cynical push to reopen schools, teachers’ unions are in a similar situation to our union.


Tourists [worldwide] facing restrictions amid fears of new coronavirus spikes – Associated Press

– Excerpt: “And in hard-hit Texas, refrigerated trailers were being rushed in to handle the growing number of bodies as deaths surge in the state. Dr. Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County’s public health authority, said it’s not uncommon for a deceased COVID-19 patient to lay on a stretcher for 10 hours in the community’s overcrowded hospitals until the body is picked up and put in a freezer.

‘Before someone gets a bed in the COVID ICU unit, someone has to die there,’ Melendez said.”


Mon. 7/13/20: COVID-19 update


Ige delays plan to reopen tourism until Sept. 1 amid COVID-19 surge on the mainland (Hawaii News Now, July 13, 2020)

The 14 day quarantine policy for travelers will continue until Sep. 1st.  With this announcement the pre-departure testing program will also be on hold until September 1st.

Survey: 8 in 10 residents say they aren’t ready to welcome tourists back (Hawaii News Now, July 13, 2020)

A UH Public Policy Center survey of 600 residents found that:  88% ― thought various public health restrictions were “mostly reasonable”.  About 7% said someone in their household had permanently lost a job ― while more than 1 in 3 said a household member had “temporarily” [emphasis mine] been laid off. Some 81% of residents agreed they don’t want “tourists come to visit my community right now.”

Waikiki’s Halekulani Hotel announces closure until mid-2021 (Hawaii News Now, July 13, 2020)

The hotel is going to take advantage of the current uncertainty to do needed renovations.  It will still need to get building permits and could take 11 months to complete, with a July 2021 reopening date.   

State, teachers union come to agreement on what social distancing will mean at public schools (Hawaii News Now, July 13, 2020)

The sides agreed that student tables must be 6 feet apart, not the proposed 3.  Other measures will have some in person classes for younger higher need kids, mix of online and in person for other grades.  San Diego and LA schools will be online only this fall.

A record 5.4 million people lost their health coverage amid the pandemic, a study found. (New York Times, July 13, 2020)

“The coronavirus pandemic stripped an estimated 5.4 million Americans of their health insurance between February and May, a stretch in which more adults became uninsured because of job losses than have ever lost coverage in a single year, according to a new analysis.”

COVID Cases (since July 10, 2020)

World: Cases:  13.1M (+600k). Deaths: 573k (+13k).

USA: Cases: 3.36M (+260k).  Deaths: 135.6k (+1.6k).

Hawaii: Cases:  1,243 (+85).  Deaths: 22 (+3).  Hospitalized: 128 (+3). Recovered: 911(+74)