Disgruntled union members launch hotel boycott - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Disgruntled union members launch hotel boycott

350 union supporters at Hyatt Regency 350 union supporters at Hyatt Regency

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The UniteHere Local 5 union is officially launching their boycott of the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  An estimated 350 union members broke apart in groups at each of the six hotel entrances then converged in the lobby yelling at the top of their lungs and demanding to speak with the hotel's general manager, who is out of town.

Last week 89 percent of the union membership voted to approve the boycott.  The Hyatt workers here in Waikiki join 17 other Hyatt Hotels from around the country doing similar actions and boycotts.

The local union has already had civil disobedience actions, strikes and rallies.  The contract for 500 union workers expired June 30th, 2010.

They're angry about sub-contracting and outsourcing jobs. They explain the logic of boycotting their workplace considering they're angry at the hotel for cost cutting measures, yet the boycott will cause the company to lose money.

"We're talking about corporations and banks, there's only one way to communicate with them. The logic is they don't listen until they start losing money," said Eric Gill, Local 5 Union Secretary and Treasurer.

"It doesn't make sense to give us a big contract with a big raise and then send jobs overseas. It just doesn't make sense," said Jonathan Bonocan, who works in the Hyatt Regency Engineering Department.

In response the hotel management says it's already offered a comprehensive package that mirrors other hotel contracts.

"Regrettably, UniteHere continues to mislead the public about Hyatt's serious efforts to reach an agreement that benefits our associates," Hotel management said in a written statement.  "In contrast to the respect we are showing for the negotiation process, UniteHere leadership has chosen to stage demonstrations that could lead to lost wages and tips, reduced shifts, fewer room nights for guests, cancelled meetings and more which will directly impact our employees and their families."

There is still hope for compromise. More negotiation meetings are scheduled for June 27-28.

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