HONOLULU (KHON2) — More than 500 workers from the UNITE HERE Local 5 union are on strike.
Airport officials told us that there are only a handful or so places open where people can get food and drinks. They’re advising folks to bring food with them as this will be going on until Sunday, Dec. 19, and only at the Daniel K. Inouye airport.
The strike by HMSHost workers mean that places like Starbucks and the Atrium Bar in Terminal 2 are closed, including other eateries near the gates.
“We are on strike because the wages we want to contract — they don’t want to give us better wages. They don’t want to give us medical, our union medical, which would be zero pay for us,” said Sammy’s Employee Antonio Tagle.
“Many of them are still working in operations but they have limited staff,” said Time Sakahara of the Department of Transportation, “and possibly minimum menu items and the lines could be a little bit longer this weekend as well.”
The impact of the strike is felt by travelers.
“We just arrived and we are looking for restaurants to eat,” said a San Diego visitor. “I want to eat and if I don’t find anything open — yes, it is an inconvenience.”
But some came prepared and are grateful they had something to eat.
“We heard on the news this morning while we were packing to leave that the strike was happening. So we brought our own lunch just in case,” said James and Keiko Shumacher, who are visitors from Australia. “A few people have asked me where we got this from so I think they are looking for lunch as well.”
Airport officials said more than 21 million inbound and outbound passengers a year pass through Honolulu. That’s an average of more than 58,000 people a day.
During Christmas time, that number typically increases by three to five percent.
HMSHost sent KHON a statement on the situation, saying:
“We are disappointed that Unite Here Local 5 has chosen to stage a strike during this busy holiday season even though we are actively working on a new agreement and have offered substantial pay and benefit enhancements for our almost 550 valued associates at HNL. As we work towards a fair agreement, we will continue to provide service to our travelers and ensure they are taken care of during this hectic time of year.”– HMSHost
“They are hitting us at a critical time. Why shouldn’t we hit them at a critical time?” Tagle said. “One job should be enough and we are worth what everyone is fighting for.”