Local 5 strike could impact many more hotels
Day two of picketing at major hotels in Waikiki and Maui, but striking Local 5 workers aren't the only ones without contracts.
HONOLULU (KITV) - The 2,700 hotel employees who walked off the job in Waikiki and on Maui are just one quarter of the Local 5 workers now without a contract. This strike or others could put Hawaii's bustling visitor industry in a more precarious situation, which has many closely watching what happens next.
Many visitors dream of a Hawaiian vacation filled with sun, sand and surf.
"We were hoping for a quiet, relaxing nine days in the sun. But it has been pretty noisy," Ross Hall, visitor from New Zealand, said. "We were woken up several times this morning with chanting going on around our Hotel."
Chants and cheers continue to be heard around Waikiki as the strike by Local 5 workers entered its second day.
Some employees like Sheraton Waikiki engineer Rob Valera, want more than just the $3 an hour wage increase, but also job security as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics become more mainstream even in the visitor industry.
"We want to make sure we have a job to come to, we could have higher wages but if we don't matter if we don't have a job to come to in a year, two years, five years," Valera said.
This strike is meant to send a message to more than just the Marriott run properties, but also put other hotel chains on notice. Because contracts for 10,000 Local 5 hotel workers ended in July at all the major resorts.
"To get an agreement to cover all of our employees, we have to get that agreement with the Marriott first, we've asked Hilton, Hyatt to wait and we will get around to them," Eric Gill, Local 5 financial secretary, said.
While the workers walk the line, they feel they are not doing this just for themselves. But feel a boost to their wages and benefits will also help other hotel workers, even those not in a union.
"We're fighting not just for Kyo-ya and Marriott employees, but all union workers. It benefits even non-union members because it brings up the standard," Valera said.
While the union is prepared for this strike to stretch on, workers and visitors alike hope it is settled quickly, so the tranquility of Waikiki can return.
"We're all human, we're all worth something. So whatever they are striking for, i guess is wages, I hope management listens to them and I hope they give it to them," Hall said.
Negotiations continue in this labor dispute, with future meetings between both sides being planned.
In the meantime, members of other unions have shown their support for Local 5 workers. By walking picket lines with them and checking out of dozens of hotel rooms at Marriott properties in Hawaii because of the strike.