By Leland Kim
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A group of former Honolulu International Airport employees marched to the state Capitol, to make their case to lawmakers. A new company bought the Wiki Wiki shuttle service, and reorganized operations. Many of them no longer work there, and they're crying foul.
Only about a third of them still work as Wiki Wiki shuttle drivers at the airport. They say their jobs were filled by Roberts Hawaii employees, but the company president says they were given opportunities to continue working.
The Wiki Wiki shuttle service continues to transport passengers at the airport. These former drivers say they were passed over when Roberts Hawaii took over operations.
"I was shocked," said Charles Baptiste, a former Wiki Wiki employee. "Twenty-one years, I've been at that place and I didn't think anyone was more qualified than I am."
"That's a slap in the face," said Judy Rapoza, another former Wiki Wiki employee. "Sixty four years old. Who's going to hire a 64-year-old?"
But the president of Roberts Hawaii says he was able to accommodate all Wiki Wiki employees.
"We're an employee-owned company, and almost 1,500 employees, so we had positions available for them," said Neil Takekawa. "Part of that whole process is that we did offer everyone who was working at ASIG (the company that previously operated the Wiki Wiki service) a position at Roberts Hawaii."
Former employees say that's not true, and claim Roberts brought in its own employees to get rid of the union.
"They've been non union for so long and that's one way to keep the union out of that," said Star Baptiste, a former Wiki Wiki employee.
But Takekawa says it's a matter of putting in the most qualified people.
"It's not a matter of union or not union. I think it's a matter of providing the best service," said Takekawa. "What we wanted to do was to bring our employees in that currently, we know what kind of jobs they perform, and how well they perform those positions."
"There's a whole bunch of us," said Charles Baptiste. "We're still trying to figure out in our heads, too, how there's more qualified people than us."
They're also trying to figure out their next step, and how to pay for their expenses.
"You get numb," said Rapoza. "You don't know what to do."
Takekawa says Roberts Hawaii has a history of excellent service in the islands and he wants to continue that tradition.