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Union holds protest in front of Hyatt Regency hotel

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 12:40 p.m. HST, Jul 21, 2011


Members of Unite Here Local 5, the hotel worker's union, and supportive community leaders filled the sidewalk in front of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa to protest work place conditions with a bed-making skit designed to call attention to housekeeper complaints.

The action, which coincided with protests and strikes at nine other Hyatt's throughout the nation, is the most recent organized by Local 5 since their contract with the Waikiki hotel expired on June 30, 2010.

Last month, Local 5 Hyatt workers voted to join 17 other Hyatt hotels across the country in a consumer boycott of their property. In the last year, workers at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki have participated in a civil disobedience action, a one-day strike and other pickets and rallies in front of the Hyatt and one in the property's lobby, said Cade Watanabe, a spokesman for Local 5.

Hyatt hotel housekeepers in Waikiki and seven other cities across the U.S. also are awaiting a decision from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on a November complaint that they filed reporting repetitive motion and other kinds of injuries sustained on the job, Watanabe said.

"Hyatt has eliminated jobs, replaced career housekeepers with minimum wage temporary workers, and imposed dangerous workloads on those housekeepers who remain," he said. "Now housekeepers across the U.S. are standing up and speaking out, saying, 'We will no longer suffer in silence.'"

Hyatt said that it has offered contract proposals that are identical to the wage and benefits packages that Unite Here has accepted from other hotel companies, such as Hilton Hawaii and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. However, Hyatt said that local union leaders have rejected every one of the proposals from Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa and continue to put their energies "toward unproductive street theatrics in the name of solidarity."

"For nearly two years, our associates along with many other Hyatt associates across the country have been held hostage by union leaders, who continue to prove that their number one priority is organizing new members - not reaching contract settlements for existing members," Hyatt said in a prepared statement.

Hyatt said union leaders should join the hotel company at the bargaining table and engage in good faith negotiations.

"It is time union leaders stop preventing thousands of hard-working Hyatt associates from enjoying improved financial benefits and stable labor contracts," the company said in a prepared statement.

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