No deal: Hotel worker strike to continue for at least another week

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Kyo-ya and the Local 5 union will continue contract negotiations on Monday, November 26 after both sides failed to reach an agreement last week.

Workers from five hotels operated by Marriott and owned by Kyo-ya have been on strike since October 8.

The affected hotels are the Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, and Sheraton Maui. 

The strike affects patrons with reservations to the following restaurants for Thanksgiving: Azure Restaurant at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, The Beachhouse at the Moana Surfrider, the Pikake Terrace at the Sheraton Princess Kaiualani, and Kai Market at the Sheraton Waikiki. All reservations have been canceled. 

Chicago resident Ramon Gonzalez is staying at the Royal Hawaiian, and said “It really is tainting the experience to me of the beautiful hotel to see hotel workers on strike.”

He added his father is a union worker, and says he is conflicted. 

“I grew up in a union household. Being part of a union household afforded us a lot of things, like healthcare and the ability to go to college. My father worked construction, so I feel terrible that I’m crossing the picket line because I didn’t know ahead of time from the hotel that there was a strike going on. We’re visiting from Chicago for my birthday. There is no luau – which is a minor inconvenience – but it’s part of the experience we came here for,” said Gonzalez. 

Hotel workers admit they’re disrupting the tourist experience. 

“It’s not something we are happy with ourselves,” said Kyle Baxter, a server at the Beachouse. “It is a really difficult position to be in sometimes because people get frustrated, and I empathize with how they’re feeling. We have pensions and medical insurance to think of and it is tough.”

Kristen Khem is a guest services agent at the Moana Surfrider. A newly divorced mother of four children under the age of 12, she says the fall-out between recent negotiations is worrisome. 

“I’m worried about the holidays. I have savings. I’m okay for now. But with Christmas, it’s ,ore about their gifts. I want to make everything special for them,” said Khem. 

Kyo-ya released the following statement:

“We are extremely disappointed that Local 5 leadership rejected our latest offer which would have been the largest increase in compensation for any of the striking markets nationwide. Instead of accepting what would have been a fair and generous agreement, Local 5 leadership has elected to keep our employees out of work.

From the start of the contract negotiation process, we have been committed to bargaining in good faith. This was demonstrated by our latest offer which included:

* An increase in combined wages and benefits for an amount that is higher than what was agreed to in any of the markets on the mainland that were on strike and have settled, including Boston, San Diego, San Jose, Chicago and Oakland. With this increase, our employees would have continued to be among the highest paid hotel workers in the country.

* No changes to benefits for all active employees which include 100% Kyo-ya-paid individual and family medical/dental/vision/drug insurance (no contribution by our employees) and pension.

* No changes to benefits for all retirees which include 100% Kyo-ya-paid individual and family medical/dental/vision/drug insurance following retirement (no contribution by our employees) and pension.

* A reduction in workload for our housekeepers.”

Kyo-ya also said it has “always had a strong and long-standing commitment to our employees and has taken great measures to treat them fairly in terms of annual wages and benefits. And the Kyo-ya team continues its commitment to good faith bargaining.”

Local 5 released the following statement:

“In recent bargaining, union workers were disappointed that the employer declined to offer enough money for the wage increases and benefits that workers need to make one job enough to live in Hawaii. We offered a counter proposal to the company. They wouldn’t respond to our proposal, ended bargaining, and won’t meet with us again until next Monday, November 26.

Other cities don’t compare to either the profitability of Hawaii’s hotel industry or Hawaii’s cost of living. Hawaii’s hotel industry is making record profits, enjoying the nation’s highest revenue figures and driving very high occupancy rates. Meanwhile, Hawaii workers are facing big cost increases for everything from housing to food to gasoline. Wages have not kept up with rising costs. 

While disappointed that no settlement was reached last Friday, we remain hopeful that the employer will make a true settlement offer next Monday. A true settlement offer is one that looks at the true cost of living and working in Hawaii and brings us toward the goal of all workers: One Job Should Be Enough.”

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