Modern Honolulu workers ratify first-ever Local 5 contract

Modern Honolulu workers celebrate after the official vote count is announced

Modern Honolulu workers celebrate after the official vote count is announced

Honolulu (September 26, 2013) – With a 101-12 vote, workers at The Modern Honolulu in Waikiki approved their first union contract with UNITE HERE! Local 5.

Effective October 1, 2013, the new contract addresses the need for protecting good, local jobs in an industry that has remained profitable, but where hundreds of jobs have been cut. It includes a successorship provision that secures workers’ jobs if The Modern Honolulu is sold to another company, or changes ownership or management. This is especially important for The Modern Honolulu workers, who have seen two management changes in the two years since it has been open.

The new contract also provides hourly wage increases, two added holidays, improved workload for housekeepers, and increased porterage for bell and valet staff.

“As someone who has worked in the industry for most of my adult life, I can tell you how important it is to have job security and guaranteed benefits,” says David Yamamoto, a bartender at The Modern Honolulu. Yamamoto has been working at the hotel since 2010 when it was still the Waikiki Edition and witnessed first-hand the workers’ struggles through these management changes.

“While this is a great victory for us, the fight isn’t over,” says Audrey Jordan-Gecain, a Modern Honolulu housekeeper, “Many hotel owners are converting hotel rooms into luxury condos and timeshares. This happened at the Ilikai next door. If this happens at the Modern, our contract won’t protect us.”

From 1964 to 2006, what is today known as The Modern Honolulu was known as the Yacht Harbor Tower of the Ilikai Hotel. In 2006, Brian Anderson bought the Ilikai and sold off the Yacht Harbor Tower to eRealty. Yacht Harbor Tower then closed for renovations, putting hundreds of workers out of work, until 2010 when it reopened as the Waikiki Edition. In 2011, its owner M Waikiki LLC (a subsidiary of eRealty) ousted Marriott International, Inc. as the hotel’s management company, hired Modern Management Services LLC, an affiliate of Aqua Hotels & Resorts, to manage the property and renamed the hotel The Modern Honolulu.

The five-year contract covers over 250 Modern Honolulu workers.