Local 5 strikes Hilton Hawaiian Village

Local 5
Local 5

By Lisa Kubota - bio | email and Howard Dicus - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - UNITE-HERE union Local 5 has begun a 5-day strike against Hilton Hawaiian Village, the largest Hilton hotel in the world.

The walkout began Thursday before dawn with a small picket line near the resort's main entrance on Kalia Road on the west side of Waikiki.

UNITE-HERE Local 2 began a 6-day strike against the main Hilton hotel in San Francisco on Wednesday, citing lack of progress in contract talks after a year without a contract.

Other locals of the same union staged one-day strikes at hotels in Chicago and Toronto, and Local 5 itself staged a one-day strike against the Hyatt Regency Waikiki this summer.

Hilton flew managers to Hawaii from properties on the mainland to help do the work left undone by the strike, a management source said.

In San Francisco, Hilton said its Union Square hotel also had help from managers from out-of-town and was still providing "most" amenities.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village strike came during Hawaii's shoulder season, a time of lower visitor populations, but the San Francisco strike coincided with a marathon and the baseball playoffs.

A union source said hotel contracts have become more difficult to negotiate in recent years after many hotels and hotel chains were acquired by investors doing leveraged buyouts who then expected to meet their debt payments with hotel profits, a strategy disrupted by the recession.

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STATEMENT Issued by Hilton Hawaiian Village

Jerry Gibson, Area Vice President, Hilton Hawaii

This morning UNITE HERE Local 5 commenced a five-day work stoppage at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Despite this action, the Hilton is continuing to operate and has staffing in most of its departments. The hotel's restaurants and nearly all other amenities and services remain open and available to guests. We will continue to operate and maintain our usual service standards for the duration of this temporary labor action.

It is unfortunate that Local 5's leadership has chosen to take this unnecessary step. Union tactics such as work stoppages and demonstrations are harmful to employees, to the hospitality industry and to the state of Hawaii. Instead of being committed to driving business out of Hawaii, Local 5 should commit itself to resolving our differences at the bargaining table.

Hilton employees currently are paid competitive wages and enjoy many generous benefits, including fully paid health insurance with no employee contribution. Hilton has offered to increase wages, to maintain employees' existing pensions, and to increase its health fund contributions so that employees can continue to enjoy fully paid health care with no employee contribution. Yet, even under current difficult economic conditions and with high unemployment, the union also continues to insist on unrealistic wage and benefit increases and several other very costly proposals.

Hilton historically has had productive relationships with UNITE HERE throughout the United States, and the Hilton Hawaiian Village remains committed to returning to the bargaining table to negotiate a long-term contract that continues to provide our valued employees with job security, competitive wages, affordable health care and other benefits. The parties made substantial progress at their last bargaining session, and additional negotiations are scheduled for later this month. Local 5's work stoppage at Hilton Hawaiian Village, closely coordinated with a work stoppage on the mainland, confirms that the union's goal is to pursue a national agenda rather than to negotiate a fair contract that provides job security for its employees.