UNITE HERE Local 5 members have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a historic contract for 2,700 workers at five Maui and Waikiki hotels.
The contract includes hard-won gains: job security; reductions in subcontracting of staff positions; worker involvement in technology deployment; a child/elder fund; a reduction in workload for housekeepers; an increase in wages, an increase in pension contributions; and an increase in health and welfare contributions.
Job security is a key element of the new contract. “No matter how high your pay is or how great your benefits are, if there is no job security, those benefits will disappear if you lose your job,” housekeeper Jowenna Ellazar said.
Robotics are playing an increasing role in the hotel industry, from automated check-ins to R2-D2-like droids that ferry bags up to rooms. Rather than allowing the deployment of technology to be solely the purview of management, the new contract creates a framework for workers to be at the table.
“We want to have a handle on our future. This is an act of self-determination,” Royal Hawaiian front desk worker Jean Te’o-Gibney said.
With this phase of “One Job Should Be Enough” completed successfully, the union now turns its attention to how the principle applies to other hotel workers, other unions, and the broader community of working people.
Collective bargaining agreements at a total of 20 UNITE HERE Local 5 properties expired at the end of June. And over 2,500 Marriott workers in San Francisco are still on strike.
“One job should be enough for all workers — for the hotel workers in Waikiki and Lahaina and also public school teachers from Hilo to Hanalei,” HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said. “All workers contribute to making our community special; we should be afforded respect and dignity.”
“People learned how to win on the lines – how to stand up for themselves, how to stand up for respect and dignity,” Royal Hawaiian hostess Janal Kaina said.
Marriott workers in Detroit, San Jose, San Diego, Oakland, and Boston were also on strike starting in early October but ended their strikes after coming to agreements with management. Over 2,500 Marriott workers in San Francisco are still on strike.