Local 5 Union Rally on Labor Day in Waikiki

Local 5 Unite Here! logo

Local 5 Unite Here! logo

Abby Bustamante, Staff Writer

On Sept. 3, Labor Day, thousands of hotel union workers and supporters rallied on the streets of Waikiki demanding better pay. 

On June 30, Local 5’s Union contract for more than 3,500 workers ended with Marriott. Hotel workers say they are tired of waiting as they have been working without a contract for two months.

“They’re not taking workers seriously,” Local 5’s president Gemma Weinstein said. “That’s why we made a statement here today. They’re making millions of money and offering the workers pennies.”  

The rally will be followed by a strike vote amongst the union workers meaning they may go on strike until they get a fair contract settlement. Without a resolution, a strike would disrupt Hawaii’s tourism economy, the workers say.

“One Job Should be Enough,” The protesters chanted as they walked through the lobby of the Sheraton Waikiki, down the beach from the Westin Moana Surfrider along Kalakaua Avenue.

“Time to show our power on the street,” protesters chanted.  

This year, Marriott got $610 million in profit in three months.

“We will fight hard to win our fair share and win respect on the job,” Unite Here representative Jean Teo-Gibney said.

During a negotiation session on Sept. 1 between the Union and Marriott, the Union proposed $1 per year and fewer work hours, and Marriott said they would give them 65 cents.

“We have had enough of hotel industry greed,” Gibney said. “We deserve our fair share of the wealth we created for them. We provide the Aloha that keeps guests coming back to our hotels. They don’t seem to appreciate it.”

The money would be split between wages, medical, pension, and housing fund.

“They want us to accept less than what we got last time we negotiated in 2013, even though Hawaii is experiencing record revenue per available room, record room rates, and record arrivals,” Weinstein said.

Local 5 has had five negotiation sessions with Marriott and so far no movement has taken place as far as bargaining a fair contract for the workers.

Other places around the country are also fighting for better wages, medical benefits, and job security such as Maui, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Diego.