Workers at five Hawaii hotels were back on the picket line Wednesday, demanding better pay. With no new talks planned between the worker’s union “UNITE HERE, Local 5” and the hotels owned by Kyo-ya and run by Marriott, we’re heading into day four of the strike on Thursday.
About 2,700 hotel workers have been on strike since Monday, asking for new negotiations for their contracts. The strike affects Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, and Sheraton Maui.
“It’s so tough because it’s the highest cost of living state. Everybody knows that. We were given these benefits… The generations before us fought for these benefits, and that’s what we’re doing today. We’re fighting for the benefits for the next generation,” said Rob Valera, Sheraton Waikiki maintenance worker.
Workers say they want to negotiate better wages and benefits, technology and job security.
“Basically we are looking for a relationship with this company. And all of our employers, they can’t just bring in a robot take our job and give us severance and bye-bye,” said Eric Gill, UNITE HERE, Local 5 secretary-treasurer: “We want to be able to bargain. We want respect for the workers, respect for the jobs here in Hawaii that we need for our economy.”
But visitors staying at nearby hotels say they too are being affected by the strike.
“We are waking up at 6 o’clock every morning, and it goes until nearly midnight,” said Kaye Everingham, a visitor from Australia staying at a nearby hotel. “The first day we thought all look at this, but this is day three nearly over. We have three more days of holiday and we are waking up at 6 o’clock. I’m really disappointed in Hawaii. We love Hawaii but this has put a damper on the holidays.”
Representatives from Kyo-ya Hotel and Resorts said in a statement on Monday:
“Although we are in continued contract discussions with UNITE HERE Local 5, we respect the right of our associates at Kyo-ya’s five properties in Hawaii to participate in a work stoppage which began on Monday, October 8.
We have implemented contingency plans which ensure that the Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, and the Sheraton Maui continue to offer our guests an enjoyable experience during their stay in Hawaii. There have been some adjustments to staffing levels and services being offered at our properties. We have notified our guests and business partners of the situation and are providing them with ongoing updates. We encourage our current and future hotel guests to contact their individual properties for the latest information.”