As strike at Hawaii hotels drag on, visitors ratchet up complaints

Thousands of Waikiki hotel workers are on strike, calling for better pay and benefits.
Thousands of Waikiki hotel workers are on strike, calling for better pay and benefits.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Oct. 11, 2018 at 12:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - No housekeeping. No restaurants. No room service.

Thousands of Waikiki hotel workers are on strike.
Thousands of Waikiki hotel workers are on strike.(Hawaii News Now)

In what could prove a lasting black eye, visitors staying at five hotels where workers are on strike are taking to social media to complain about what they thought would be their dream Hawaii vacations.

Some are asking for full or partial refunds. Others are urging other visitors to stay away.

Visitor Edna Garcia posted a bad review Tuesday on the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani’s Facebook page, saying her room hasn’t been cleaned and she’s had to go to the lobby to get towels and other supplies. “Seriously!!???” she said.

Visitor Sally Stanley also posted her complaints on Facebook, saying the strike had disrupted her wedding and honeymoon.

“Pool closed, no housekeeping, no bar or food services at our hotel due to a strike that is still going on now,” she said.

The strike of 2,700 unionized workers across five hotels is now in its third day — and there’s no sign that it’s coming to an end. The hotels — operated by Marriott and owned by Kyo-Ya — that are impacted: Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton ‪Princess Kaiulani‬ and Sheraton Maui.

Keith Vieira with KV & Associates Hospitality Consulting said the strike could have a long-lasting negative impact to Hawaii’s economy and tourism industry.

“When you’re walking down Kalakaua and it’s your honeymoon and people are yelling and screaming, or you see that on social media — 'we’re not gonna go, we’re gonna plan to go someplace else,’" said Vieira. "And this is the booking window, especially after the hurricanes, the summer is done, people are looking at their window and first quarter and Hawaii has a history, if you miss the first quarter, very difficult to have a good year.”

In Waikiki on Wednesday, Australian visitor Tina Domingo said she and her family were trying to make the best of a difficult situation. They’re staying at the Sheraton Waikiki. For their six-night stay, the bill is about $3,000.

“On the higher levels, they’ve left all the shampoos and conditioners, toilet papers out and you got to get it yourself until they work out what’s happening,” she said.

According to the UH Center for Labor Education and Research, this is the largest strike of its kind in 16 years.

The strike started Monday morning after the hotels couldn’t reach an agreement with workers, who are calling for higher wages, more benefits and job security.

Local 5 labor leaders say the strike could spread at any time to other Marriott hotels.

“Contrary to what a lot of people think, for most of us, it’s more than just the pay, it’s the job security. It’s the pension. It’s the medical,” said Janal Kaina, who has been a hostess at the Royal Hawaiian for 32 years. "I’m not that far away from retirement so that’s important to me.”

In a statement, Kyo-Ya said it’s continuing to offer “our guests an enjoyable experience during their stay in Hawaii. There have been some adjustments to staffing levels and services being offered at our properties.”

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.