Striking Kaiser workers rally as new talks are scheduled

Striking Kaiser workers rally as new talks are scheduled
Maile Duarte-Rego
Maile Duarte-Rego

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaiser Permanente employees have been picketing since Monday in a six-day strike to show their unhappiness with the latest wage offer with management. On Thursday, they tried to make that message loud and clear in Waikiki.

Hundreds of those workers and their supporters took part in a march that started from the corner of Hobron Lane and Ala Moana Boulevard and ended in a loud and enthusiastic rally beneath the large banyan tree at Kuhio Beach.

The workers got support at the rally from Honolulu city councilmen Ron Menor and Joey Manahan.

"When Kaiser employees succeed, we all win," Menor told the cheering crowd.

The Kaiser workers also got backup from their fellow Local 5 workers from the hotel industry.

"We're all gonna back up Kaiser, because their victory is a victory for everybody! Am I right?" Local 5 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Eric Gill told the gathering.

A vote of the nearly 1,900 healthcare workers represented by the union authorized the walkout. They're also against Kaiser's plan to eliminate guarantee pensions for new employees, which the company says is needed to keep costs down and insurance rates affordable.

At about the same time as workers were rallying, Kaiser announced it would resume talks Feb. 18.

"I'm hopeful that we'll get some movement and Kaiser is really serious about settling our contract. And at the same time the union is prepared to continue to fight, if necessary," said Maile Duarte-Rego, a patient accounting representative at Kaiser.

The walkout is scheduled to end at midnight Saturday.

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