UNITEHERE! Local 5
Press Release for April 14, 2022
Bryant de Venecia
UNITE HERE Local 5 Members joined Day of Action to demand the return of jobs and hotel services
Hundreds of Local 5 members rallied in Waikiki, joining 16 other cities in U.S. and Canada, to push hotel companies to bring back hotel services and jobs for hospitality workers
(Honolulu) – UNITE HERE Local 5 members joined 14 UNITE HERE locals in 16 cities across U.S. and Canada on a Day of Action. Workers rallied to shed light on hotels’ failure to bring back the workforce despite the hospitality industry’s recovery.
As visitors flood the streets of Waikiki and tourist spots return to their pre-pandemic traffic, hospitality workers are asking hotel companies why their full-time hours are not back and their coworkers are yet to return to their previous positions.
Workers called, “Full resort services now!” Despite average daily hotel rates rising up to 120%, many hotel amenities are not offered including automatic daily room cleaning, in-room dining, food and beverage outlets, banquets, and more—preventing thousands of workers from getting their full-time hours back.
Luz Rieza, a housekeeper at Hilton Hawaiian Village shared, “Hilton’s CEO Chris Nassetta earned more than $24 million in 2021, while the workers at Hilton Hawaiian Village—their most valuable property—struggled to make rent and put food on the table. We were furloughed for months and the company never offered any support, not even a single cent.”
Mary Taboniar, another housekeeper at Hilton added, “During the pandemic when occupancy was low, workers were left behind without any safety nets. We had to look for other jobs to survive. Now that tourism is booming again, these hotel companies are demanding that we prioritize them when it’s clear they are not prioritizing us. Hotels only give us 2 days of work a week. That’s not enough to survive.”
Eric Gill, UNITE HERE Local 5 Financial Secretary-Treasurer said, “At Local 5, we continue to build a better community for everyone, and we continue to struggle to improve Hawaii peoples’ lives. Our 2018 strike for “One Job Should Be Enough” addressed the multiple jobs our people must hold in order to make a living amid Hawaii’s high costs. We won historic gains. We are making progress.”
Last week, the Union won tentative agreements with Queen Kapiolani Hotel and Waikiki Resort Hotel, allowing workers whose contracts expired in 2018 to catch up with the Waikiki standard on wages and benefits. Contracts between Local 5 and big hotel properties like Hilton, Marriott/Kyoya, and Hyatt are set to expire on June 30, 2022.
“The global corporations that own and operate our hotels don’t care about improving our lives,” Gill added. “Corporations care about profit. Using the pandemic as their excuse, they have eliminated thousands of hotel jobs. Hotel profits are at record levels and Hawaii workers are paying the price.
“This is a terrible idea for Hawaii tourism. What Hawaii needs is more good union jobs for workers to provide the top-quality services that attract the visitors we want to come. The future of Hawaii tourism is at stake—will tourism serve the needs of Hawaii, or are we all to be just impoverished servants to tourists? Will it be the bright future we want, or the dark future our corporate bosses are trying to force on us?”
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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.