Hotel Workers Wage Legal Battle After Losing Jobs

Virginia Ricardo
Virginia Ricardo
Larry Tsuchiyana
Larry Tsuchiyana

WAIKIKI (KHNL) -- A Waikiki hotel is in turmoil. Workers at Pacific Beach Hotel face a grim Christmas this holiday season. They've been out protesting for months, but dozens have now learned that by midnight on Friday, they'll be out of a job.

Contract negotiations have hit a boiling point. Workers are taking legal action against Pacific Beach Hotel, which is located off of Kalakaua Avenue.

Their union representatives say under federal law, it's illegal to fire, cut pay or hours in the middle of contract negotiations.

Workers have had enough, with two management changes in two years -- each one triggering mass firings. Hundreds of Pacific Beach Hotel employees were told they'd be re-hired, but 45 of them never got offer letters.

"It's so frustrating," said Virginia Recardo, a housekeeper who at Pacific Beach for 15 years. "It's hard for me as a single mom. Life has to move on, they said, but you can't stop thinking, where will you get your next meal?"

"I just got my house so I have to pay my mortgage so I'm shocked right now," said housekeeper Rhandy Villanueva.

Those who did get re-hired say they had to accept a few conditions, including either a cut in hours, a cut in pay, plus a 90-day probation period.

"I had to sign this paper that said after all those years of work, I have to go through 90 days probation and I haven't called in sick for over 15 years." said Larry Tsuchiyana, a bartender at Pacific Beach.

Workers who aren't getting their jobs back accuse Pacific Beach Corporation of retaliating against them for protesting. Many of those who aren't getting re-hired sit on the ILWU Local 142 Union Committee.

"I've been a worker at the hotel for 25 years as a bellman and I wasn't re-hired probably because of my union activities," said Kapena Kanaiaupuni.

Whether these workers will get their jobs back is now dependent on the legal outcome of their battle for a seamless transition.

In a statement, Pacific Beach Coorporation said, "The occupancy trends in Waikiki have declined and our business forecast in 2008 to remain flat... it is unfortunate that we cannot provide jobs for everyone."

This legal battle could take years which means starting December 1st, hotel workers must scramble to find new jobs.