Union protests at Waikiki hotels center around timeshare issues
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Union protests at Waikiki hotels center around timeshare issues

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Hundreds of workers gathered at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, where members recently passed a vote saying they are willing to authorize a strike if negotiations do not improve.

Unite Here Local 5, which settled a 51-day strike of 2,700 Marriott-Kyo-ya workers in November, continues to have a contentious bargaining season as evidenced by two actions today.

This afternoon union workers were in front of The Modern Honolulu protesting the impending layoff of 78 workers at the hotel, which was bought by Las-Vegas based Diamond Resorts in April 2018 for a reported $225 million. The union also objects to what it calls “negative timeshare practices” at the resort.

A spokesperson for Diamond Resorts confirmed today that the company plans to convert the property to a timeshare resort. The spokesperson said the company has been in conversation with the union.

The layoffs, which were expected to take place by month’s end, now are set for June 15, the spokesperson said. The company wanted to give senior employees being laid off a chance to stay on with the company by bumping more recent hires, the spokesperson said.

The Diamond Resorts spokesperson said that the company believes that it is in compliance with its collective bargaining agreement, which expired last year. But the union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board May 4, claiming that Diamond Resorts had failed to bargain in good faith and had violated federal labor law rights.

Also, hundreds of red-shirted workers gathered this afternoon in front of the beach at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, where members recently passed a vote saying they are willing to authorize a strike if negotiations do not improve.

Some 1,800 Local 5 members work at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where the union has said sticking points are “poverty wages and workload issues” in its timeshare towers. The union also wants “stronger language to protect jobs even with the implementation of automation and technological changes, and to disincentivize subcontracting.”

Today’s actions are part of the pattern bargaining that Local 5 has engaged in since securing a contract with Hawaii’s largest hotel owner at its largest hotel properties late last year.

As is the tradition with hotel-union contract negotiations in Hawaii, once one major hotel group has agreed to wage and benefit increases, workers at other hotels will ask for a similar package. But this one, which provided union members with up to $6.13 an hour in pay and benefit hikes over four years, was more costly than most. The contract also provided protections against the loss of jobs due to technological advances, addresses safety issues and workload issues.

The union said Hilton’s contract differs from the earlier contract that they secured because it involves negotiations on timeshare that were not a part of their discussions with Marriott and Kyo-ya.

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