Union organizes mass COVID-19 testing for hospitality workers, it calls on employers to follow suit

Coronavirus

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 in anticipation of tourism reopening.

Governor David Ige recently announced visitors may bypass the two-week quarantine if they prove they are COVID-19 negative through test results beginning on August 1. Visitors who show symptoms at the airport will be sent to a second screening where they will be retested for COVID-19.

Eric Gill who is the financial secretary and treasurer for the union said there was little mention of testing for hotel workers in the initial announcement of the state’s reopening of its tourism.

“Testing does answer the question for individuals, you know, am I sick, am I going to get my family sick and that’s an important piece,” Gill said. “Testing the workforce is extremely important, especially essential workers like hotel workers who have contact with people and therefore more chances to be exposed.”

The Local Five union members have demonstrated for continuous health care coverage through the pandemic and enforcement of safety measures at their places of work.

They are asking for employers to also test workers for COVID-19 as they expect an influx of visitors starting August.

Gill said, “We are calling on the government to make them put it on file what they intend to do so that they can enforce it.”

A spokesperson for the State Attorney General’s office said both government and the private sector are still putting thought into maintaining industries safety. They expect similar protocols in safety measures including “new systems and processes” and health screenings.

Gill said Kahala Resort reached an agreement with Local Five to test each employee for COVID-19 before returning to work.

Gill said, “Kahala set a standard for the rest of the industry and we certainly will attempt to call upon them to do the right thing.”

The union is still working to reach agreements with other hotels to ensure testing for their workers.

Saturday’s testing for COVID-19 for hospitality workers and their families will take place at the Waipio Soccer Complex (93-061 Waipio Access Point Rd. Waipahu, HI 96797) from 8 am to 2 pm.

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