UNITE HERE and Hyatt Reach National Agreement

For Immediate Release
July 1, 2013
Jeff Nelson, UNITE HERE
(617) 480-2585
Farley Kern, Hyatt Hotels
(312) 780-5506

UNITE HERE and Hyatt Reach National Agreement

Pact provides contracts and process for workers to join union, ends global Hyatt boycott

CHICAGO (July 1, 2013)—Today Hyatt Hotels Corporation and UNITE HERE, the union of hospitality workers in the U.S. and Canada, announced a national agreement that resolves longstanding disputes between the two organizations. The agreement creates a framework for the company and the union to work together moving forward. Both UNITE HERE and Hyatt hailed the pact as a positive step.

The agreement will go into effect upon the settlement and ratification of union contracts by Hyatt associates in San Francisco, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Pending associate approval, the contracts will provide retroactive wage increases and maintain quality health care and pension benefits. The proposed new contracts would cover associates into 2018.

A key provision of the agreement establishes a fair process, which includes a mechanism for employees at a number of Hyatt hotels to vote on whether they wish to be represented by UNITE HERE. As part of the accord, upon ratification of the union contracts, UNITE HERE will end its global boycott of Hyatt.

D. Taylor, the president of UNITE HERE, said, “We look forward to a new collaborative relationship with Hyatt. This agreement shows that when workers across the hotel industry stand together, they can move forward, even in a tough economy. Both organizations deserve credit for working out this constructive step forward.”

“We are delighted that our associates in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Waikiki will have contracts and the pay raises that go with them,” said Doug Patrick, Senior Vice President, Human Resources for Hyatt.

See more here.

AiKea, I Vote!

Dozens of AiKea supporters wave signs in support for Ron Menor for Honolulu City Council

Dozens of AiKea supporters wave signs in support for Ron Menor for Honolulu City Council

Late last year, Local 5 set an ambitious goal to win three electoral races and kick off a political movement in Hawaii to put control of the state back into the hands of working people, and wrest it away from the corporate powers that dominate decision-making at so many levels throughout the US.

To accomplish this, Local 5 began a comprehensive program to bring its core strength – its rank and file committees – into the political process. Early in 2012, Local 5 committee members organized a series of “town hall” meetings that brought rank and file leaders together with progressive community activists to share and build consensus on key issues – ranging from schools and education to public transportation to water quality, the depletion of fishing resources, and of course, jobs and employment. This program culminated in a mass conference of community and union activists in mid-May to formally launch the “AiKea” movement.

“AiKea” comes from the recognition by the leaders of Local 5 that they needed a name for their movement that appealed to an audience beyond the Union–one that would strike a chord and project hope for change. In the last few years, a street phrase has become popular in Hawaii–a phrase that translated people’s discouragement and disenchantment into fake “Hawaiianized” language. “Ainokea”, when read with Hawaiian pronunciation, sounds “eye-no-kay-ah”, or local pidgin pronunciation for the English words “I no care.” Local 5 decided to turn this phrase around, so it would reflect hope and determination, not discouragement and apathy. That’s how “AiKea” was born.

Focused on three electoral districts, the Local 5 PAC invited candidates seeking the union’s endorsement to participate in a panel discussion before 200 union delegates. This level of participation by union members built both enthusiasm for and commitment to the candidates the union committee chose to endorse.

With a firm relationship in place between Local 5 members and candidates whose values truly reflect those of our members, the union mapped out the neighborhoods and voter turnout goals that were necessary to achieve victory. For two months, Local 5 members and other community activists canvassed these areas, to identify voters and challenge head-on the sense of disempowerment that many voters felt. The message canvassers delivered was a clear departure from the usual get-out-the-vote: working people win respect by building real power, and do so by voting together as part of a movement.

Election night in August proved that all the hours and all the hard work were worth it, as union-supported candidates came out on top in all three races. Now Local 5 is looking forward both toward the November election, but also to the exciting and challenging work of building true organization in the community and challenging workplace leaders to step further into community and political leadership roles.

APEC poses greater threats than traffic nightmares for Hawaiians

Behind closed doors a policy is being devised that could raise medicine prices, drive down our wages, ban job-creating Buy America policies, undermine financial regulations aimed at controlling the banks that wrecked our economy while exposing Hawaiian Ceded Lands and environmental policies to challenge.

It is called the Trans-Pacific Free “Trade” Agreement. Negotiations include the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, and Singapore. But the deal is intended to be open for others to join, including Japan, Indonesia, Russia and more.

A dirty secret of today’s “trade” pacts is that they are not mainly about traditional trade matters, like tariffs. Rather, they require countries to conform domestic policies to hundreds of pages of one-size-fits all international non-trade rules written in a closed door processes involving hundreds of corporations with the rest of  us are locked out. This includes 600-plus official U.S.corporate trade advisors. Congresspeople, Hawaii’s Governor and state legislators, journalists and we people whose lives will be most affected cannot see what our negotiators are bargaining for — and bargaining away — until a deal is done and it is too late for changes.

Countries that fail to change their laws to meet these “trade” pact requirements are slammed with indefinite trade sanctions or cash damages. Just in past months, theU.S.was ordered to eliminate the dolphin-safe label on tuna cans and our anti-teenage smoking ban on flavored cigarettes. After trade sanctions on $2.3 billion ofU.S.trade, we just allowed entry for trucks from Mexico that don’t meet U.S.safety or environmental standards.

We will hear from the usual corporate sources that another “trade” agreement could expand exports. But the data is clear: our export growth rate to the countries we have these deals with is half of that to those we do not. And, we have lost lots of jobs thanks to the major trade deficit we suffer with the bloc of 14 previous Free Trade Agreement countries.

Thus, whether and under what terms a Trans-Pacific “trade” deal is done will affect the types of jobs available in our communities; whether the rapacious global banks that have seized control of Hawaii’s hotels can be made to pay their workers well; and whether Hawaii will be able to diversify its economy to provide jobs for more people. That’s because the proposed agreement would impose constraints on national and Hawaiian service sector, investment, and financial policy.

Also at stake is whether Hawaii will be able to free itself from dependence on imported oil and instead develop its potential for solar, wind and other renewables and the existence of strong consumer and food safety protections. The agreement will impose limits on energy policy and safety and inspection standards for fish, fruits, meat and more.

American’s worst job-offshoring corporations, major global banks, agribusiness, and pharmaceutical giants want this Trans-Pacific deal to be like NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the first pact focused on undoing our basic public interest protections under the false brand of “trade” agreements. Labor, environmental, anti-poverty, family farm, and other advocates have demanded a “Fair Deal or No Deal.”

It is not looking good.U.S.negotiators are pushing the corporate line, insisting that the notorious NAFTA “investor-state” enforcement system by included. This empowers corporations to skirt our courts and go to World Bank and UN foreign tribunals to challenge our domestic policies and demand taxpayer compensation if they think our laws undermine their “expected future profits.”Hawaii’s land-use policies would be at special risk. Under NAFTA, over $350 million has been paid out to corporations over attacks on zoning, toxics bans, and more.

U.S.negotiators also are pushing new privileges for pharmaceuticals industry giants that would jack up medicine prices. This includes new rights for them to attack “drug formularies,” the cost-savings programs used by the U.S. Medicaid, Medicare and the Veterans Administration – and Australia,New Zealand and other nations. If the U.S.proposal is adopted,Hawaii and other states would have to pay for expensive new drugs Big PhRMA develops even if they provide no new benefits to patients.

And, that is what we know. Trans-Pacific FTA talks have taken place behind closed doors, and no draft texts have been formally released. A recent text leak revealed that U.S.officials signed a special deal not only to keep all documents secret, but to do so for four years after talks end! Civil society groups in the involved countries have launched an international “release the text” campaign to extract the draft  texts. Those requests have not been met.

This extreme secrecy only makes us all wonder: just what all is being agreed to behind closed doors at APEC that cannot withstand public scrutiny.

APEC – Oahu Residents Paid A High Price For a Bad Deal

By Eric Gill – Financial Secretary-Treasurer

Oahu residents were groaning under the impact of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.  Parks and beaches were inaccessible or closed, roads were blocked unexpectedly and even the freeway shut down. Waikiki was under martial law conditions, with concrete barricades, car searches, workers subject to background checks to determine if they could work, security passes needed to enter various areas, and even offshore surf sites closed.

Adding insult to injury, right after teachers and other public workers were forced to take pay and benefit cuts, millions of our tax money was spent to spiff up landscaping and push our most unfortunate out of what little they can call home. This our government did in order to put on a show for the richest of the rich and their politician servants — the very ones who caused (and benefitted from) the economic crisis that has cut our services, impoverished our public workers, and put our families out on the street.

Whether Hawaii’s visitor industry will get a boost in business travel out of this is debatable, but one thing is certain: We have tainted the vacations of the visitors we already have.

And for what? Just what went on at the APEC talks that was worth the nuisance and expense? It’s all a big secret, but the facts are beginning to emerge, despite the secrecy and the distraction of self-promoting politicians making speeches.

APEC was about working on a dirty deal to benefit global banks and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that the 1 percent continues to cook up represents a massive corporate/bank end-run around our laws, protections, rights and self-determination.

Labor laws to ensure basic standards for workers in our community; environmental and consumer protection laws; land use laws; even laws to control health care costs — they are talking about how to get around all these. Even laws protecting Hawaiian lands are in danger, rendering Hawaiian sovereignty meaningless.

But it is not only Hawaii’s native peoples’ sovereignty that is being undermined. It is the sovereign rights of Hawaii and the United States as well.

All nations signing trade deals like TPP are giving up sovereignty rights to corporations and banks. The provisions of this secret agreement would allow private entities — banks and corporations — to bring suit in international courts to enforce the terms.

This has already happened under previous “free trade” scams like NAFTA. Mexican corporations have been successful in ignoring safety and anti-pollution laws that took decades of struggle to put in place — unsafe and polluting Mexican trucks, with drivers paid under Mexican wage and benefit standards, now have free access to American highways, competing with American truckers who respect American laws.

Even future laws we would like to pass will be prevented. For example, the governor’s idea that Hawaii should buy food from local farmers to feed our school children — that could be prevented along with any other Buy Hawaii or Buy American programs.

The 1 percent pushing the TTP deal at conferences like APEC is even talking about rules that would prevent us from promoting generic drugs and force us to buy hideously overpriced patented drugs.

And they want to extend the years that pharmaceutical companies can keep new drugs under patent, thereby maintaining their breathtaking monopoly prices for drugs.

All of us — or at least 99 percent of us — will be the victims, and the big pharmaceutical companies and the banks that own them — the 1 percent — will generate even bigger profits off our illnesses and aging.

APEC and TPP now seem to be just another scheme to stick it to the 99 percent of us who work for a living.

No wonder APEC put up walls, barricades, traffic stops and road closures to keep Hawaii’s people away from them — they were up to no good.