HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of Waikiki hotel workers staged what they called a short-duration strike against one hotel Thursday, as hotel contract talks across the United States grow more tense.
Local 5 of the UNITE-HERE union struck the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, one of the larger properties on Waikiki's Kalakaua Ave., and one striker said the walkout would last one day.
"They're trying to negotiate a permanent recession for the workers," said Jonathan Ybanez, who has worked at the Hyatt for 13 years. "They show no respect."
Local 5 recently opened contract talks with Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood and Marriott hotels in Waikiki, and other locals of the same union are engaged in negotiations in San Francisco, Chicago and other mainland cities.
The recent recession has made the current round of contract talks tricky for labor and management alike. UNITE-HERE contract negotiators want wage increases without benefit concessions for workers many of whom had their hours curtailed during the recession, while bargainers on the management side face pressure from investment groups that bought large stakes in hotel chains with borrowed money and now want higher profits to help them pay down their debt.
"We all hope that we'll eventually be able to reach mutually beneficial agreements that will be good for our employees," Chris Tatum, the new chairman of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, said in a live appearance Thursday on Hawaii News Now Sunrise. Tatum is the regional senior vice president for Marriott International.
No quick agreement is expected. Both labor and management often find it expedient to settle mainland contracts first, so that higher wages in Waikiki don't complicate negotiations in markets where both room rates and the cost of living may be lower.