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)

Mon. 6/8/20: COVID-19 Update


‘I’m squeaking by right now’: voices of America’s unemployment crisis (The Guardian, June 6, 2020)

This article features several workers, including UNITE HERE members like Sheraton Waikiki worker Andrea Grabow, and their struggle with the unemployment crisis.

Organizers estimates of turnout for Honolulu march for Black Lives Matter on Saturday between 5k to 10k, with one saying 20k.  You can view the Hawaii News Now news clip of the statewide actions here, and some social media of the actions on HHN here.

Weekend COVID cases rise as state figures out a plan to welcome visitors back (KHON, June 8, 2020)

20 new cases were reported in Hawaii over the weekend. Governor Ige is planning to announce soon whether the 14-day mandatory quarantine for travelers will be extended.

Outdoor dining available to help O’ahu restaurants get back on their feet (KITV, June 5, 2020)

Now that restaurants in Oahu are open again, any restaurant abutting city and county property such as parks or sidewalks will have privilege of setting up outdoor dining.  This includes some relaxed liquor license rules.  The restaurants still have to allow 36″ clearance for sidewalks and other restrictions. Full details here.

Daily visitor arrivals into Hawaii near 600 Thursday (Star Advertiser, June 5, 2020)

546 recreational visitors came in one day despite the 14-day quarantine.

Program will close main Waikiki thoroughfare to vehicles 4 Sundays this summer (Hawaii News Now, June 5, 2020)

Kalakaua Avenue will be closed from 6am to 12pm on four Sundays to create a pedestrian thoroughfare for residents to visit, shop and eat and presumably have free reign to walk around.

Bars, movie theaters and gyms on Oahu given a date for reopening (Hawaii News Now, June 5, 2020)

These businesses (Including “Indoor attractions” such as “bowling alleys, arcades, mini golf, movie theatres, museums, and other similar indoor entertainment facilities”) would be allowed to reopen on June 19 with certain conditions and limitations such as following social distancing rules.

The Head Of Hawaii’s Unemployment Office Is On Leave (Civil Beat, June 5, 2020)

No details on the nature of leave, though it’s mentioned he got death threats and is escorted to and from work by law enforcement.  Thousands of people still haven’t gotten their UI claims.

To Break the Power of the Police, We Need to Mobilize the Power of Labor (June 3, 2020)

Excerpt: “Some unions, including the ATU, have given a glimpse of the best of American labor — one at the forefront of fighting all forms of oppression. In Brooklyn, when the police attempted to use a city bus last week to transport arrested protesters, the bus driver stepped off and refused to drive it. His union backed him up. In Minneapolis, after a rank-and-file bus driver declined to transport police, his ATU local issued a statement affirming members’ right to refuse to assist police operations. The national Transport Workers Union (TWU), which represents workers from San Francisco to New York, issued a statement saying their drivers are under no obligation to act as police chauffeurs.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 7.1M (+500k). Deaths: 406k (+12k).

USA: Cases: 1.96M (+70k). Deaths: 111k (+1.9k).

Hawaii: Cases: 676 (+12). Deaths: 17 (+0). Hospitalized: 84 (+1). Recovered: 618 (+4)

Thu. 6/4/20: COVID-19 Update


Congress approves sweeping changes to PPP. Here are the details – Washington Business Journal. 

These modifications to the PPP program were originally part of the HEROES Act, which Senate Republicans vowed would never pass because they were against a different part of that act which would have extended the $600 monthly supplemental unemployment benefit.

So instead, legislators both Democrat and Republican passed this legislation, which helps businesses and hurts workers, without winning anything for working people. Further weakening of the rules is likely.

The basic provisions:

  • Instead of having to pay out 75% of the PPP money to workers, business now only have to pay out 60%.
  • Instead of having to spend the money in 8 weeks, businesses have 24 weeks or until December 31.
  • Small businesses that did not rehire employees, hire new employees or return to the same level of business as before the virus can have their loans forgiven anyway.
  • Businesses that got PPP funds can now also get a tax credit to defer payroll taxes (even as they use PPP money to pay payroll) – which was prohibited before as “double dipping.”
  • For those that do have to repay the loans, they will have 5 years to do so instead of 2.
  • More time to rehire employees.

One-Third of America’s Record Unemployment Payout Hasn’t Arrived – Bloomberg News. 

Bloomberg estimates that $67 billion in unemployment benefits from March, April and May still has not been paid out.

Hawaii Island, Maui resorts lay off more than 900 employees – Pacific Business News. 

Waikoloa Beach Marriott and Westin Maui both issued WARN notices.

Food demands in Hawaii increase as unemployment insurance complaints continue – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

Before the pandemic, 1 out of 8 Hawaii residents were already struggling with food security. Nonprofits like the Hawaii Foodbank are struggling to meet the growing demand due to the layoffs caused by COVID-19.

HTA chief announces retirement amid crisis for Hawaii tourism industry – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

Chris Tatum (former general manager of Waikiki Beach Marriott) is retiring from the HTA board as of August 31.

A Short History of U.S. Law Enforcement Infiltrating Protests – The Intercept. 

As the title states, this article provides a useful look at law enforcement infiltrating leftist movements and what they have done once they’re in to try to destroy those movements.

Don’t Balance The Budget On The Backs Of The Working Class – editorial by Andrea Brower, published in Honolulu Civil Beat. 

Excerpt: “In the new plantation economy, Hawaii provides cheap labor, natural “resources” (i.e., aina), infrastructure and direct public treasury support in exchange for low-wage jobs and an inflated cost of living. Compared to the profits they extract, multinational companies pay little back to the people and land that create it. A change in form, but not in function, from plantation days of the past.”

Excerpt: “Hawaii already had the distinction of being the state where residents are “most likely” to live paycheck to paycheck. Compared to other states, we have the highest cost of living and the lowest paid workers.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 6.6M. Deaths: 389k .

USA: Cases: 1.87M.  Deaths: 108.2k.

Hawaii: Cases:  655.  Deaths: 17.  Hospitalized: 83. Recovered: 61