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Local 5 Hotel Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

September 11, 2018, 8:46 AM HST · Updated September 11, 8:46 AM
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Marriott workers on Maui. Sept. 2018.

UNITE HERE Local 5 hotel workers from six Marriott-operated hotels in Honolulu and on Maui have voted to authorize a strike with a 95% yes vote.

The strike authorization comes after months of negotiations with Marriott for contracts covering over 3,500 hotel workers.

Local 5 hotel workers who participated in the vote were from the following hotels: Waikīkī Beach Marriott, Sheraton Waikīkī, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, and Sheraton Maui.

“We want to come to an agreement with Marriott, but our members are preparing for a strike if contracts are not settled soon,” said Eric Gill, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 5, “Our proposal is to make one job enough to live in Hawaiʻi. Marriott’s proposal is to get another job.”

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Laurie DeCoite, a PBX operator who has worked at the Sheraton Maui for 30 years, also voted yes to strike: “Generations of my family have worked at the Sheraton Maui. Those who worked before went on strike so that we could enjoy the benefits we do today. Now, it’s our turn to make sure we protect what they won for future generations.”

“I voted yes to strike because our hotels keep squeezing us to work harder, while we get less. We need to fight for proper staffing and reasonable workloads so we can be healthy when we retire and not broken down,” says Julie Gabot, a 60-year-old housekeeper at the Sheraton Waikīkī who has worked there for 30 years.

Workers are demanding Marriott, the world’s largest and richest hotel company, to make one job enough to live in Hawaiʻi. Additionally, workers are fighting for job security by addressing issues like automation and technology, workplace safety, immigration, and more.

Marriott workers in Honolulu. September 2018.

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A representative with the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa issued a statement in response to our request last week, saying the property along with its owners, Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts are in negotiations and have had longstanding and productive relationships with Unite Here Local 5.

The following is an excerpt from the statement sent in response to Maui Now’s inquiry:

“Kyo-ya has always negotiated our collective bargaining agreements in good faith and will continue to do so. While the negotiation process is moving forward, UNITE HERE and some of its members are engaging in rallies on Monday to express their views on important issues. Kyo-ya is a company that values the contributions of all our associates, and we respect the right of people to voice their opinions. We are also committed to continuing our contract discussions and look forward to our scheduled future meetings.”

Marriott hotel workers will also be taking strike votes on September 12 in Boston, September 13 in San Francisco and San Jose, and September 14 in Seattle. In total, the nationwide strike votes will cover over 8,000 union UNITE HERE workers in more than 20 hotels in six major hotel markets for Marriott: Honolulu, Maui, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

UNITE HERE Local 5 is encouraging Hawaii residents, elected officials, political candidates, and tourists to support workers by not patronizing hotels in case there is a labor dispute. In an event of a strike, please do not cross picket lines. UNITE HERE maintains MarriottTravelAlert.org, a service for customers of Marriott hotels who need to know whether labor disputes could affect their travel or event plans.

Local 5 represents approximately 11,000 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international union that represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.

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