News coverage reprinted in full below.
- KITV: Hilton Workers Approve Strike: Union Negotiating Contract For More Than 1,000 Workers (Sep 15, 2010)
- Pacific Business News: Hilton Hawaiian Village’s 1,400 workers vote ‘yes’ to strike (Sep 15, 2010)
- KHON: Hilton workers vote yes to strike (Sep 15, 2010)
- San Diego Union-Tribune: San Diego City Council Votes in Favor of Labor Backed Proposal that Critics Fear Could Force Downtown Hotel Developers to Use Union Workers (Sep 15, 2010)
KITV: Hilton Workers Approve Strike: Union Negotiating Contract For More Than 1,000 Workers (Sep 15, 2010)
HONOLULU — Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel workers on Wednesday voted to authorize a strike vote.
The hotel workers union, Local 5, is negotiating contracts for over 6,000 Hawaii workers who have been working without them since they expired on June 30.
The Hilton workers voted at the Hawaii Convention Center throughout the day.
They voted 890 in favor of a strike and 51 against a strike.
“We’ve had six negotiation sessions with them and personally I think they’re dragging their feet, but we need to get things moving and this is what I think we need to do,” reservations agent Kaleo Aarona said.
Aarona and her fellow union co-workers said contract negotiations have stalled, with the major sticking points over staff cuts, reduced hours, pension and medical care cuts while the hotel’s owners makes a profit.
“It is disappointing that the union has chosen to take this step, especially since negotiations began just recently. Our hospitality industry has suffered and continues to suffer from the recession. We should be working together to encourage business to start returning to our state, not taking actions that sends even more business away,” Hilton Hawaii Area Vice President Jerry Gibson said in a written statement.
The vote means the union can tell its members to walk off the job after giving a shift’s notice to the hotel, a union representative said.
Pacific Business News: Hilton Hawaiian Village’s 1,400 workers vote ‘yes’ to strike (Sep 15, 2010)
More than 70 percent of the approximately 1,400 unionized employees of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa voted Wednesday to authorize a strike in the midst of ongoing labor contract negotiations.
Unite Here Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe said 95 percent of the ballots cast by 6 p.m. Wednesday were ‘yes’ votes authorizing union leadership to strike should negotiations with Hilton management stall.
The Hilton workers, along with another 4,600 workers at a dozen of Hawaii’s largest hotels and resorts, have been working without a labor contract since June 30.
The expired contracts cover food and beverage, housekeeping, general clerical and maintenance workers at properties such as the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach Marriott, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa and six Starwood Hotels & Resorts-managed properties on Oahu, Maui and Kauai.
The last time a contract was negotiated between Unite Here Local 5 and major hoteliers in Hawaii was 2006 — at the height of a healthy and thriving economy — so the current negotiations are being closely watched by tourism industry leaders fearful of a disruption to the gradual economic recovery.
Sources say this year’s negotiations are growing increasingly contentious as Local 5 follows suit with similar organized efforts, including strike votes and rallies, by its sister unions on the Mainland.
The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa, which employs some 500 Local 5 members, has been the site of several Local 5 demonstrations this summer, including a one-day strike earlier this month.
The hotel workers with expired contracts account for 60 percent of Local 5’s total membership statewide. Local 5 members represent about 12 percent of Hawaii’s 91,000 hotel and food-service workers statewide, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
KHON: Hilton workers vote yes to strike (Sep 15, 2010)
Hundreds of Hilton Hawaiian Village employees voted on whether or not to authorize a strike.
Wednesday workers in the union, Local 5 arrived at the convention center to cast their vote.
About 1,400 employees have been working without a contract since June 30th.
Employees say negotiations with Hilton’s owner, Blackstone, stalled three weeks ago and they want them to come back to the bargaining table.
‘What we really need is job security, we need to know that there’s going to be good jobs for us in the future , for today, for our future, for our children.,” said Kaleo Aarana, who has worked for the Hilton Hawaiian Village for 23 years in reservations.
‘We’re understaffed and i feel that because we’re rebounding now with the economy that they should hire more people and secure more jobs for the Hawaii people,” said Deborah Tabar, who has worked for the Hilton Hawaiian Village as a finance clerk for 37 years.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village’s area Vice President Jerry Gibson released this statement: “Hilton Hawaiian Village wants to return to the bargaining table to continue what we have begun: negotiating a long-term contract that continues to provide our valued employees with job security, excellent wages, and generous health care and other benefits. We invite the union to join us back at the bargaining table so that we can continue working together to reach a new agreement.”
Voting results will be released at 6:10 p.m.
San Diego Union-Tribune: San Diego City Council Votes in Favor of Labor Backed Proposal that Critics Fear Could Force Downtown Hotel Developers to Use Union Workers (Sep 15, 2010)
A labor-backed proposal that its critics fear will force downtown hotel developers and operators to use union workers won the support Tuesday of the San Diego City Council.
The 6-2 vote followed an acrimonious hearing that drew dozens of union workers whose representatives urged elected leaders to support the measure, arguing that hotel development fosters the creation of some of the city’s lowest paying jobs. They contend that future hotel projects should, therefore, be reviewed directly by the council, which would give it the opportunity to take into consideration a number of the city’s stated economic goals, including the creation of jobs with self-sufficient wages.
The two-hour hearing also drew strong representation from the city’s business, development and real estatecommunity, which united in opposing the proposal.
“Today was a big victory for hotel workers in downtown San Diego because now they’ll have the opportunity to talk about job quality before elected leaders when previously they were not allowed to do so,” said Brigette Browning, president of the local hotel workers union, Unite Here. “The intent of this is not to force employers to hire union workers. But with (Tuesday’s vote), the council would now have the ultimate opportunity to disallow hotels to be built with low-income jobs.”
Under current regulations, the Centre City Development Corp., which is the city’s downtown redevelopment arm, is the final arbiter on most downtown hotel projects. With Tuesday’s vote, the council will now be able to have the final say.
The CCDC, which opposed the move to change the development review process, argued that it offers a more streamlined process that gives developers greater certainty and removes politics from land-use decisions.
The council vote now paves the way for an ordinance to be drafted that would be reviewed by various downtown groups, including the CCDC, as well as the planning commission and ultimately the council, which would consider the measure by the end of the year.
While council supporters insisted Tuesday that the effect of their action was to simply create a more transparent process that would allow elected leaders to weigh in on hotel projects of 100 rooms or more, opponents were just as adamant that the vote was all about unionizing hotels.
“The public trust is at an all-time low because the public is … sick and tired of being told something from elected leaders when their eyes tell them something different,” said Councilman Carl deMaio, who voted against the action, along with Councilman Kevin Faulconer. “We have a room full with labor unions and we’re told this has nothing to with sweetheart labor deals. But … it benefits organized labor and is driven by the influence they have in getting (council members) elected to office.”