Posts

Media Advisory: Hawaii labor unions, community members march to celebrate International Workers’ Day

UNITEHERE! Local 5

Media Advisory for April 27, 2021

 

Media Contact:

Bryant de Venecia

(808) 546-0024

[email protected]

Hawaii labor unions, community members march to celebrate International Workers’ Day

WHAT: Hundreds of Hawaii labor union members & community march in Kalihi to celebrate International Workers’ Day 2021

WHERE: Kalihi Valley District Park (1911 Kamehameha IV Rd, Honolulu, HI 96819)  Click here for full flyer and route map

Hawaii Workers Center will have a full program at 11:00 AM at Towers at Kuhio Park Resource Center (1475 Linapuni St.)

WHEN: Saturday, May 1, 2021, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM

WHO: Members of UNITE HERE Local 5, Hawaii Teamsters Local 996, Masons Union of Hawaii Local 1, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1260;  Hawaii Workers Center, and community members

WHY: May 1st is recognized as International Workers’ Day in many countries around the world. This year, Hawaii’s unions and community members plan to reclaim and celebrate May 1 for Hawaii’s working people with the message: “We are the community, we are the Union!”

Kalihi has a long history as a haven for diverse working-class families. The neighborhood is also home to many cultural centers, hubs for social services, union halls, and industrial zones. In celebration of workers around the world, we want to recognize the Kalihi community’s contribution to our workforce and to our economy in Hawaii.

It has been a difficult year for Hawaii’s working people. Beyond the grief and loss caused by COVID-19 pandemic, we have faced the worst economic insecurity in recent history. Our state leaders did not step up to fix unemployment and the corporations turned their backs on workers. Nevertheless, our community took care of one another.

As we start the economic recovery, Hawaii’s working people are presented with another set of challenges: securing safety in our workplaces, securing rights to return to work and fighting threats of job cuts. International Workers’ Day is a day of recognition and solidarity—the working class uniting to fight for a better future for Hawaii and the rest of the world.

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.

# # #

Kaiser Permanente workers protest outsourcing of local jobs to California

Press Release for April 17, 2021
 
Media Contact:
Bryant de Venecia
(808) 546-0024
[email protected]
Kaiser Permanente workers protest outsourcing of local jobs to California
Dozens of health care workers protest after company announced that up to 57 positions from its Patient Financial Services department will be outsourced
 
(Honolulu, HI) UNITE HERE Local 5 members are doing sign-waving and leafleting to protest the planned job cuts announced by Kaiser Permanente. The company announced that 42 to 57 positions from its Patient Financial Services department will be outsourced to California.
 
This comes as another threat to Hawaii essential health care workers. In October 2020, Kaiser announced closure of Gastroenterology and Ambulatory Services departments on Maui, which proposed to eliminate 27 jobs. Through several statewide actions, community town halls, and petitions, Kaiser workers successfully thwarted the threat of job cuts and loss of important healthcare services on Maui.
 
Christine Webster, a Patient Financial Representative for 34 years shared, “I have worked for Kaiser Hawaii for 24 years and my goal is to retire with my medical in a few years. Now with Kaiser eliminating all jobs in my department, that goal will be unattainable. We need to protect these jobs and keep them in Hawaii. The people working in Patient Financial Services deal directly with local people. We know and care about our Hawaii community; we built these relationships with patients over the years. These jobs need to stay here.”
 
Emi Mataele, another Patient Financial Representative added, “This is another blow to our community. We had one of the highest rates of unemployment. We have sacrifice so much through this pandemic. It is disheartening that health care workers like us are about to lose our jobs in the middle of a pandemic.”
 
The Union refutes Kaiser Permanente’s claim that financial challenges are the reason why it announced the job cuts. Kaiser turned down $500 million federal CARES Act money in 2020; subsidy that would have helped Hawaii’s struggling economy. The organization also boasted record-breaking profit in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. UNITE HERE Local 5 believes that outsourcing Hawaii’s health care jobs are an unwarranted attack on Hawaii’s workforce.
 
The collective bargaining agreement between Kaiser Permanente and UNITE HERE Local 5 is set to expire on September 30, 2021. The Union fully intends to secure stronger job security provisions in the next contract to protect health care jobs in Hawai’i.
 
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.
# # #

Local 5 Statement re: COVID-19 vaccines

Media Contact:
Paola Rodelas
Cell Phone: (808) 333-4782
[email protected]

Statement re: COVID-19 vaccinations

Affron Herring, an assistant pantry worker at the Hilton Hawaiian Village who was able to get his COVID-19 vaccine because he is a military veteran.

Vaccines to prevent and immunize against COVID-19 are becoming increasingly available in the United States and in Hawaii. We are optimistic about the opportunities that a vaccine can provide for our community, especially for our workers in the hospitality industry, as the state continues to re-open tourism.

UNITE HERE Local 5 would like to work with the state and the hotel industry in creating and implementing a safe and inclusive vaccination program for our hospitality workers that includes:

  • Vaccinating all hospitality workers, not just front-of-house workers.
  • Encouraging vaccinations for whom it is safe. We do not support compulsory vaccination programs
  • Prioritizing hospitality workers for inclusion in the next phase of vaccination rollout, as they are essential workers who welcome both global and domestic travelers—including guests who are required to quarantine by the state, or have tested positive for COVID-19.

“I took the vaccine to help protect myself from others and to get back to work sooner,” says Affron Herring, an assistant pantry worker at the Hilton Hawaiian Village who was able to get his COVID-19 vaccine because he is a military veteran, “I hope the state and hotel industry will work with Local 5 so that my coworkers and other hospitality industry workers will get the same opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

For Immediate Release: Local 5 launches “Hawaii Workers Against COVID” website

UNITE HERE Local 5 offers the public and travelers an inside look of hotels’ health and safety protocols

Visit: Hawaiiworkersagainstcovid.org

(Honolulu) – UNITE HERE Local 5 launches new website that lets the public take an inside look at Hawaii’s hotels including the direct observations of hospitality workers. “Hawaii Workers Against COVID” offers a centralized site to check the quality of hotels’ self-declared safety protocols and cleaning standards, as well as their compliance with theprotocols they have published. As hospitality workers slowly return to work amidst the pandemic, the website allows them to rate hotels and submit reviews on cleanliness and safety measures based on first-hand workplace experience.

After the State of Hawaii reopened its doors to tourism, Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on November 23, 2020 requiring hotels to publish their COVID-19 Health & Safety plans and submit them to the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority. Despite the requirement,

there are numerous hotel properties whose protocols do not appear on the site.

UNITE HERE Local 5 President Gemma Weinstein shared, “This is about safety and transparency. Hotel companies are quick to brag about updated cleaning standards and safety protocols but what is important is that the policies on paper are put into practice. With the rise of COVID-19 cases both locally and in places where travelers are coming from, we want to make sure everyone is educated so they can make the right decisions.”

Union members started doing walkthroughs and inspections of hotel properties in June 2020. A few months later, UNITE HERE Local 5 released inspection findings based on the evidence that workers had gathered. The reports initially showed a diversity of issues in hotels like lack of signage, inadequate cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and lack of enforcement on mask wearing. Some issues were subsequently resolved.

The Union stresses the responsibility of hotels to take decisive action that will mitigate COVID-related health risks in their properties. There are many possible actions they can take, from cleaning and sanitizing to testing and contact tracing—to ensure the safety of guests, workers, and communities across Hawaii.

Weinstein added, “This is a public health and safety issue. The Hawaii community and travelers need to know what’s really happening inside the hotels. This website allows a space for hotel workers to speak up and report what they experience in their workplaces, both good and bad, for the benefit of our guests, our coworkers, and our families here in Hawai’i.”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 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.

# # #

 

 

 

Statement on Black Lives Matter

Local 5 members at Kaiser Permanente Honolulu clinic wore black in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

UNITE HERE Local 5 condemns the government murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the latest in a sickening string of repeated police atrocities against Black Americans. We reject this police violence as a terrorist crime intended to intimidate Black communities from fighting for fairness and equality. Black Lives Matter for us.

George Floyd’s murder shocked people all around the world into action. Hundreds of thousands have turned out to protest. We are inspired by the courage and determination shown by people worldwide who are risking their lives and health to protest the routine brutalization and murder of citizens by our government.

The live-on-camera brutality displayed by George Floyd’s murderers revealed the true nature of our government’s attitude to peoples’ rights. Now everyone has seen what Black Americans have known for centuries: the government can casually kill you and get away with it.

Justice-loving Americans have turned out in force to join the Black community in outrage about police murder, only to be met with more government violence. So now we know it’s not just Black people whose rights are being trampled. The government will gas you and shoot you if you protest government atrocities, no matter the color of your skin, even if you are protesting “peacefully”.

In our union, we know from experience that we get nowhere fighting the boss one-by-one. Our power depends on our ability to gather our numbers. If they take away our ability to demonstrate and protest as a group, they take away our power. And that’s what they are doing when they attack peaceful protesters—trying to intimidate all of us from turning out to fight for our rights.

As people around the world join Americans in the fight to finally put an end to the disgusting government terrorism campaign against our Black communities, we now know that when we fight for the rights of Black people, we are fighting for the rights of everybody.

Let’s defeat racism and the other things that divide us. Let’s stand together to make our government stop its violence against our communities. Together, we can make our government “of the people, by the people and for the people” the way it is supposed to be.

Statement from UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor

As frontline workers in the hospitality, food service and transportation industries, the 300,000 UNITE HERE members and the families they support will be among those most affected by the unprecedented and unexpected spread of the coronavirus. Already, workers are seeing their hours reduced or are facing layoffs in the face of decreased travel, cancelled meetings, university closures, and sporting events played without spectators. While the affected industries and corporations will rebound, this could be a catastrophic event for workers who are facing down an unexpected loss of their livelihoods. (Read more)