Local 5 members rally to highlight ongoing challenges of healthcare, hospital workers

Workers rallied along King Street Monday morning.
Workers rallied along King Street Monday morning.(HNN)
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 2:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - About two dozen hospitality and healthcare workers workers rallied in Honolulu Monday to bring attention to the struggles of Hawaii’s workforce.

Organized by UNITE HERE Local 5, the sign waving event took place outside of the Kaiser location at King Street and Pensacola.

Workers say since the start of the pandemic, jobs have been cut and they’re feeling overworked.

They’re calling on Hawaii’s lawmakers to address the issue by funding more unemployment benefits after federal payments expired this weekend.

[Read a related report: Hawaii businesses still struggling to hire as some unemployment benefits come to an end]

They’re also asking Kaiser to prioritize local workers over mainland ones. A union contract with Kaiser Permanente involving 2,000 Local 5 workers expires at the end of this month.

“Let’s expedite the hiring process. Let’s protect the jobs of Local 5 people. If we can work, let us work, don’t supplement a non-Local 5 person in the position,” Stephanie Meredith of Local 5 said.

In a response to the rally, Kaiser Permanente said they began national negotiations with the Alliance of Health Care Unions back in April. They also said they respect the unions’ rights to rally and appreciate their healthcare workers.

“We are extremely grateful for our employees and physicians, whose commitment to providing care and service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring, and to our labor partners who stood side-by-side with us through this unprecedented period in the history of health care,” they said in a statement.

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