UNITE HERE! Local 5, a union representing 12,000 hospitality, health care, and food service workers in Hawaii, today endorsed Keith Amemiya for the next mayor of Honolulu.
The union says it trusts Amemiya to lead Honolulu through the COVID-19 crisis.
Insurance executive Amemiya, 54, is running against former television executive Rick Blangiardi, 74, for mayor in the November general election.
“We are so tired of politicians who ask for our votes, but then when it is time to make decisions that affect other people’s lives, they think they have all the answers,” said Gemma Weinstein, president of UNITE HERE! Local 5. “Keith is the one mayoral candidate who values the voices of working people. He is the one candidate we trust to give working families a seat at the table.”
Local 5 has been leading efforts to ensure that worker rights and safety are protected during the pandemic, and has called for more transparency by hotel employers for safety protocols.
“With many thousands of Oahu’s hospitality workers unemployed and our primary industry in crisis, our members need the next mayor to put the people first, to stand up to corporate interests and remember that our community’s prosperity depends on the welfare of the people that live and work here,” said Eric Gill, Financial Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE! Local 5.
Gill said before making a decision, Local 5 organized two well-attended town hall sessions allowing members to compare the two candidates, and to hear their plans for the future of Oahu.
”After careful consideration, our member committee has chosen to recommend Keith Amemiya as the better choice to lead our city,” he said. “We look forward to working with Keith and the Council to rebuild our members’ hopes and dreams for the future of our families and our community.”
Local 5 is an affiliate of The Hawaii State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which also endorsed Amemiya earlier this month.
Amemiya said he was humbled and inspired by the union’s show of support, and would take their slogan, “unite here,” to heart.