About 2,700 Unite Here Local 5 hotel workers went on strike this morning at five Marriott-operated hotels in Honolulu and on Maui demanding pay raises and safer working conditions.
“The workers need to be taken care of. These workers work hard,” said Gemma Weinstein, president of Local 5. “In Hawaii, it’s so expensive right now,” she said, adding that a majority of workers have two or three jobs to cover expenses and support their families.
Today is the first day of the strike for Hawaii union workers at hotels operated by Marriott: Sheraton Waikiki, Royal Hawaiian, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Westin Moana Surfrider and Sheraton Maui. Workers were seen picketing at the entrance of the loading dock of the Sheraton Waikiki and Royal Hawaiian this morning.
The hotels are owned by Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, which issued a statement this morning saying that the company has “implemented contingency plans which ensure that the (five hotels) continue to offer our guests an enjoyable experience during their stay in Hawaii.”
Kyo-ya officials also said “there have been some adjustments to staffing levels and services being offered at our properties.” They encouraged current and future hotel guests to contact the individual properties for updates. “We are committed to continuing our good faith bargaining and hope to resolve this situation in a timely manner,” the company statement said.
About 95 percent of nearly 3,500 Local 5 workers at seven Marriott-operated hotels in Hawaii voted last month to authorize a strike. Workers at the Waikiki Beach Marriott and the Sheraton Kauai were among those who authorized a strike but they were still on the job this morning.
Today’s walkout follows strikes at Marriott properties in cities on the mainland last week, and brings the number of striking Unite Here workers nationally to 7,700, according to the union. Marriott workers have also gone on strike in Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Detroit, and San Diego.
“Today 7,700 Unite Here workers are on strike across Marriott hotels in eight tourism destinations across America to change the hospitality industry and demand that one job be enough to support their families on,” D. Taylor, the union’s international president, said in a news release today. “Marriott is the richest and most profitable hotel company in the world, and by taking them on in this historic hotel worker strike Unite Here union members are going to change the lives of all workers in our industry.”
Marriott said in a statement last week that it would “continue to bargain in good faith for a fair contract.”