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UPDATE: UNITE HERE Local 5 Approves ‘Historic’ Contract

November 28, 2018, 8:45 AM HST
* Updated November 28, 3:22 PM
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Ratification vote and the last day of picket lines, Nov. 27, 2018. PC: www.unitehere5.org

UNITE HERE Local 5 and Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts have reached a tentative agreement on a new union contract after a 51-day strike.

“We’re grateful for the solidarity of our fellow union members and the support of the entire community,” UNITE HERE Local 5 President Gemma Weinstein said on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.

“The new agreement meets the needs of our employees and Kyo-ya,” said the management of Kyo-ya. “We look forward to welcoming them back and look forward to more years of working together to successfully provide world-class service to our guests. We also want to thank the community for their patience and understanding throughout this process.”

Since Oct. 8, over 2,700 workers have been on strike at five hotels, owned by Kyo-ya and operated by Marriott: Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and Sheraton Maui.

UNITE HERE Local 5 members voted overwhelmingly on  Nov. 27 to ratify a historic contract for 2,700 workers at the five Maui and Waikīkī hotels.

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The new contract brings workers to $6.13 an hour in pay and benefit hikes over four years, according to news sources.

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“Our members worked in solidarity across departments and various compensation systems to make sure that everyone moves forward,” said UNITE HERE Local 5 Communications & Community Organizer Paola Rodelas. “But we’re looking beyond the four years: we’re making sure that we have a handle on technology in our industry, as well as key concerns for all workers such as child care and elder care. And we’re looking beyond the 2,700 workers at these five properties to examine how we can make ‘one job should be enough’ true for all working people.”

The contract includes hard-won gains according to the UNITE HERE Local 5 website: job security; reductions in subcontracting of staff positions; worker involvement in technology deployment; a child/elder fund; a reduction in workload for housekeepers; an increase in wages, an increase in pension contributions; and an increase in health and welfare contributions.

Job security is a key element of the new contract.

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“No matter how high your pay is or how great your benefits are, if there is no job security, those benefits will disappear if you lose your job,” Housekeeper Jowenna Ellazar said.

Robotics is playing an increasing role in the hotel industry, from automated check-ins to R2-D2-like droids that ferry bags up to rooms, UNITE HERE Local 5 said. Rather than allowing the deployment of technology to be solely the purview of management, the new contract creates a framework for workers to be at the table.

“We want to have a handle on our future,” Royal Hawaiian front desk worker Jean Te’o-Gibney said. “This is an act of self-determination.”

With this phase of “One Job Should Be Enough” completed successfully, the union now turns its attention to how the principle applies to other hotel workers, other unions, and the broader community of working people.

Collective bargaining agreements at a total of 20 UNITE HERE Local 5 properties expired at the end of June. And over 2,500 Marriott workers in San Francisco are still on strike.

“One job should be enough for all workers—for the hotel workers in Waikiki and Lahaina and also public school teachers from Hilo to Hanalei,” HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said. “All workers contribute to making our community special; we should be afforded respect and dignity.”

“People learned how to win on the lines—how to stand up for themselves, how to stand up for respect and dignity,” Royal Hawaiian Hostess Janal Kaina said.

Marriott workers in Detroit, San Jose, San Diego, Oakland and Boston were also on strike starting in early October, but ended their strikes after coming to agreements with management. Over 2,500 Marriott workers in San Francisco are still on strike.

UNITE HERE Local 5 represents approximately 11,000 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 270,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.

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