Strike at Hilton Hawaiian winds down, guest frustration ramps up

Deborah Tabar
Deborah Tabar
Rhen Camarillo
Rhen Camarillo
Jerry Gibson
Jerry Gibson

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A housekeeper makes $16.50 an hour.  A parking cashier earns $17.50 an hour.  And a Hilton Hawaiian Hotel guest will pay hundreds of dollars a night.  Right now none are getting exactly what they want.

"U-G-L-Y Hilton's got no alibi they ugly!" chanted Rhen Camarillo on a bullhorn outside Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Striking Hilton workers are trying to get their message to management, but it's the hotel guests that are getting an ear full.

"At 2:30, 3:00 in the morning, they were doing the air horns and the drums and the guy finally got tired and went down and said you're not going to change anybody's mind at 3:00 in the morning. Can you please stop? They laughed at him and they got louder," said Kevin Burns, a visitor from Seattle.

Another guest said picketers are bullies saying they interrupted a church service on Sunday and when she confronted them they told her...

"'You're not respecting our picket line.' And I said, 'Well, this isn't respectful to the Lord,' and she said, 'Well you're just a middle class white snob,'" said Joanne, Visitor from Washington. "It had me in tears this morning. I have just had it with them."

"Frankly there have been a few disappointments. There's been a little bit of unprofessional conduct out there, but it's only been a few," said Jerry Gibson, Area Vice President Hilton Hawaii.

"Things like this will arise no matter what kind of strike we're on, no matter who is on strike. Our picketers have been told that we are to respect our guests," said Deborah Tabar, a striker, Hilton Finance Clerk and 37 year employee.

Strikers have been warned by police about noise but haven't been cited.  Police also watch as they slow deliveries and busses by blocking driveways.  Union representatives say one man was arrested after hitting a striker while pushing his way through the picket line with his car.  They also say other guests have argued with striking employees about the noise.

"I told him go complain to Hilton so if you want us to stop go complain to Hilton and tell them to sign the contract and we will stop," said Rhen Camarillo, striker, Parking Cashier and four year employee.

"Say it loud!" said a woman on a bullhorn with a hoarse voice.

This is the fifth and final day of the strike and judging from those hoarse voices and frustrations from guests it seems many could use a good vacation.

"I was telling my wife, the first person that had one of those noise makers and coming after the thing, fire them, because if they did that on any given day during the year, they're going after the guests and if Hilton had someone doing that any other time of year other than a strike they would be fired," said Burns.

The employees say they've been working without a contract since June 30th and after nine negotiations sessions they voted to strike.  Among the things they're asking for are higher wages, better medical and a guarantee their jobs won't be contracted out.

The strike ends at midnight.  Employees are expected to go back to their jobs Tuesday.  The next bargaining session is scheduled for next Monday.

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