New Ilikai owner to rehire fired workers

Eric Gill
Eric Gill
Joli Tokusato.
Joli Tokusato.

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - What a difference a day makes for Waikiki's famous, Ilikai Hotel. The Ilikai plans to re-open with 50 of 65 former workers on board. The rest will be offered severance.

With a midnight deadline looming, the company reached a new agreement with the Local 5 Union, late Thursday night.

While there are still many indefinites about this down to the wire decision, iStar Financial and union workers together join hands to embrace a new vision of revitalizing the Ilikai.

"The Ilikai is still our house!," said Hotel Worker Tammy Omoso.

Overwhelming, ecstatic, celebration. It wasn't a pep rally, but a party to review and ratify the hotel worker's new contract.

"We are grateful that iStar spoke to us," said Omoso.

The new owner listened after workers and their supporters invaded the Ilikai Wednesday. Employees say the showing motivated iStar to settle.

"We wanted to ensure these workers were carried forward, and the bank wanted to avoid a fight with the union," said Union Negotiator Eric Gill.

We can't tell you much about the details of the contract because "Shhh," it's secret. The union says the spared workers will keep the same wages, benefits and job security, although negotiators hinted there are some contract time changes.

But there's still no guarantee when the 203-unit hotel portion of the property will re-open. Employees could potentially go days, weeks, months, even years without a paycheck. But thanks to the new offer, they say at least now there's a chance.

"Yesterday we had no hope, so today, even though we don't know exactly when we're coming back, at least we know we are coming back," said Hotel Worker Joli Tokusato.

For now they'll celebrate, but what actually comes out of this new contract remains to be seen. The union says it will meet again soon with the new owners to hammer out more details of the contract. But, workers will receive vacation pay they've accumulated before Thursday night's closure.