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Monday, September 22, 2014         

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Local 5 plans Hilton rally

By Dave Segal

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Hilton Hawaiian Village union workers, who disrupted operations with a five-day strike at the resort last month in an effort to demonstrate their unhappiness with labor talks, are planning a two-hour rally there today.

Unite Here Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe said he expects at least 1,000 members to participate in the action as well as 500 attendees from the pro-union International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, who are here this week for the group's annual conference. The Brookfield, Wis.-based organization had threatened to cancel its event -- and 5,700 hotel rooms -- without assurances from Local 5 that the union would not boycott or strike. However, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters brokered a deal with the foundation to convince it to come to Hawaii.

Watanabe said the Hilton and Local 5 had negotiating sessions Thursday and Friday and reached tentative agreements on some issues but none of the major ones.

"Our tactics and our strategy have become much more comprehensive as we're looking at how we can create enough leverage against Blackstone (owner of Hilton's parent company) to strike a deal sooner rather than later," Watanabe said.

Jerry Gibson, area vice president of Hilton Hawaii, said the two sides have agreed on "many" issues and that the company has offered wage hikes and increased benefit contributions.

"It is unfortunate that the union continues to be more concerned with engaging in disruptive behavior and conducting unnecessary demonstrations instead of focusing on what's important -- completing negotiations for a new contract," he said.






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