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Contracts for 6,000 statewide hotel workers expire June 30

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Union contracts for nearly 6,000 hotel workers statewide expire at the end of the month and negotiations have yet to begin on a new contract.

Unite Here Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe said no date has been set for talks with Hawaii hotels, including major properties in Waikiki.

The hotels include Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, the Kahala Hotel & Resort, the Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel and Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, as well as the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and Sheraton Kauai Resort.

The contracts affect employees in valet, housekeeping, bell desk, front desk, operators, food and beverage, engineering and maintenance. The union could reach an agreement with management to extend the current contract while negotiating a new one, which has been the standard practice. Union negotiations will likely focus on continued family medical and pension benefits, as well as job security and improved workload, according to Watanabe.

In 2006, the union negotiated a four-year contract with wage increases of up to $2.40 an hour for non-tipped employees, as well as improved housekeeping workload standards and continued family medical benefits.

Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of operations for Hawaii and French Polynesia at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which operates the Sheraton properties, said he hopes for a fair, five-year contract given the dire straits of Hawaii hotels, which have seen profits plunge in recent years.

"We hope for understanding of what’s happening in the marketplace," he said. "We’ve laid off absolutely minimal union employees and laid off 18 percent of our managers. People don’t recognize the fact that hotels are having a very difficult time surviving."

Local 5 is expected to stage a rally this afternoon at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.

"All the major hotels are owned pretty much by Wall Street," Watanabe said. "They’re using the economy as an excuse to roll back benefits and at the same time work us even harder."

Contracts also expire later this year for workers at Ilikai Hotel & Suites, and Ala Moana Hotel, Turtle Bay Resort, Waikiki Resort Hotel, Ramada Plaza Waikiki, Best Western The Plaza Hotel and Queen Kapiolani Hotel.


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