Unite Here Local 5, which represents about 11,000 Hawaii hospitality, health and food service workers, endorsed Gov. David Ige for re-election Thursday during its annual delegate convention at the Hale Koa Hotel.
Eric Gill, the union’s financial secretary-treasurer, cited Ige’s support of the union’s concerns about illegal vacation rentals, in particular, in announcing the endorsement.
In 2016, Ige vetoed a bill that would have allowed short-term accommodations brokers, such as Airbnb, to act as tax collection agents for the state. Critics, including Ige, said it would have shielded owners of unpermitted vacation rentals, allowing the units to continue to proliferate.
“Airbnb is bad for our community,” Ige said to cheers from union members, citing the impact illegal vacation rentals are having on the the affordability and availability of housing for residents. Ige said there is a place for Airbnb rentals, but they need to comply with laws and be appropriately zoned.
Ige is in a competitive race with U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to retain his seat.
This is the second major endorsement that Local 5, known for its progressive politics, has made this primary season. Last week, the union endorsed Kim Coco Iwamoto for lieutenant governor.