Hotel workers stage non-political rally for mass transit stop in Waikiki

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

ALA MOANA (KHNL) - Hotel workers who say Honolulu's rail controversy has just gotten too political, held a non-political rally on Friday.

They say they're not for, or against rail, and they're not endorsing anyone, but they are calling for a mass transit system.

They took their message to the streets, waving down drivers, alerting people about the grueling commute hotel workers confront every work day.

"That's why I had to retire. It's hard for me to be driving to work and the bus is too crowded now, so I had to retire," said Rose Aguinaldo, a former hotel worker.

The demonstrators are with the union, Local 5. They called for a mass transit system to run through Waikiki, Oahu's hotel hub.

"This is about quality of life, especially because people have houses in Waipahu, because that's where we can afford," said Aguinaldo.

A majority of those who rallied are already retired. They no longer need to endure the traffic mess. But they say their fight is on behalf of hotel workers still in the industry, particularly the younger generation.

"I have some friends who work in a hotel and for them, they always tell me, oh, parking is expensive. For us, we don't have that much money, we're college students and we work part-time and we focus on school," said Jason Espero, an intern for Local 5.

If the city doesn't come up with a solution soon, hotel workers fear, Hawaii's youth will inherit Honolulu's gridlock, which they say worsens with time.

Local 5 held the rally across from Ward Warehouse in Ala Moana.

Ala Moana is the last stop in phase one of the proposed rail project.