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)

Thu. 7/9 COVID-19 Update

New Resource:

If your child was getting free or reduced-price school lunch during the school year, you are eligible for food purchasing assistance. It’s a one-time payment of up to $360 per child. The Hawai’i Department of Human Services will automatically send benefits to eligible households—you do not need to apply! Read this flyer for more info: {{}}


News Updates:

Hawaii health department to shut down restaurants and bars flouting coronavirus precautions – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Hawaii health inspectors will begin shutting down restaurants and bars that do not adhere to rules meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Department of Health Food Safety Branch will issue red placards, temporarily suspending the operations of restaurants, bars and other eateries that do not comply with rules that include physical distancing and the wearing of masks. Under state law, health inspectors can temporarily close food establishments that pose a danger to public health.

Gov. David Ige and the state’s mayors will meet again to decide whether to lift the 14-day travel quarantine – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Hawaii officials are still grappling over whether to proceed with reopening tourism on Aug. 1, as coronavirus infections continue to climb.

After a marathon meeting Wednesday, Gov. David Ige, the county mayors and health officials will reconvene today to make a final determination on lifting the 14-day self-quarantine restriction that has largely kept tourists from visiting the islands.

Hiring outlook remains dim, with ‘scarring in the economy’ – The New York Times

– Excerpt: “A wide range of indicators recently have suggested that the economic rebound is losing momentum in states where virus cases are rising quickly.”

Supreme Court Says Trump Can Roll Back Access to Birth Control Under the Affordable Care Act – The Intercept

– Lourdes Rivera, senior vice president of U.S. programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said: “Today’s ruling has given bosses the power to dictate how their employees can and cannot use their health insurance — allowing them to intrude into their employees’ private decisions based on whatever personal beliefs their employers happen to hold.”

– Excerpt: “Access to birth control reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and encourages birth spacing, which leads to better outcomes for mothers and babies. Birth control promotes gender and racial equality and is linked to greater educational attainment and increased earnings for women.”



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)