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Hawaii governor, Honolulu mayor say they won’t attend hotel functions during strike

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Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell met with striking hotel workers today at the state Capitol.
Video by Craig T. Kojima
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Supporters of Unite Here Local 5, which represents 2,700 striking hotel workers in Hawaii, demonstrated today at the state Capitol.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told striking hotel workers during a meeting at the state Capitol today that they would not cross the picket line and have urged their hotel managers and owners to resume bargaining.

Unite Here Local 5, which represents 2,700 striking hotel workers in Hawaii, and Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts will return to the bargaining table Friday and Saturday. The strike, which is now into its 15th day, began Oct. 8 when negotiations between Local 5 and Kyo-ya, which owns the Marriott-managed Sheraton Waikiki, Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and Sheraton Maui, reached an impasse.

Local 5 said they are seeking a $3 wage hike, but Kyo-ya has only offered a 70-cent-an-hour increase for wages and benefits. The average local five housekeeper makes just over $22 an hour.

Kyo-ya did not return a call from the Star-Advertiser today.

More than 30 Local 5 members, who were part of an 11-day island-wide relay to bring the union’s message to the community that “One Job Should Be Enough” were invited to share their concerns with Ige and Caldwell during an afternoon meeting today. Former Hawaii Gov. John Waihe‘e, who helped negotiate an end to the 1990 Local 5 strike, which lasted 22 days, also was at the Capitol to pledge his support to union members.

“We learned a lot from the members that shared the challenges that they face being in Hawaii with the high cost of living. There should be a fair wage settlement and package settlement that can end the strike,” Ige said. “We shared that we have been talking to management and encouraging them to go back to the table.”

Caldwell said he and Ige have watched the strike “dramatically affect the visitor experience” and were heartened to hear management and workers soon will return to the bargaining table.

“Stay at the table and get it resolved quickly. Two weeks is too long. The damage will become permanent at some point and it will be hard to change course,” Caldwell said.

In the meantime, Caldwell said he hasn’t talked to visitors directly but his administration has received complaints about the guest experience and it’s troubling. Caldwell said a few people also came up to him while he was walking in the Honolulu Pride Parade Saturday and asked him to intervene.

Caldwell and Ige said they have been in contact with Kyo-ya, Marriott and Local 5 daily since the strike began. In the meantime, Caldwell said “neither I nor the Governor will cross the picket line.”

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