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Striking Hotel Workers Facing Thanksgiving Holiday Without a Contract Settlement

Wayne Yoshioka

It's day 45 for 2,700 hotel workers on strike in Hawai’i.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Hotel workers chant and pound makeshift percussion instruments facing the Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel

More than 80 striking hotel workers rallied on the beach fronting the Westin Moana Surfrider and the Sheraton Waikiki Hotels shortly after daybreak.  The average hotel worker earning 22 dollars an hour has already lost nearly one thousand dollars in wages over the last month-and-a-half.  Shane Subia is a housekeeper, his voice raspy from leading strike chants.  He just signed for a check he received from the Unite Here! Local 5 Union.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Shane Subia is a housekeeper at the Moana Surfrider

“Every Wednesday we have our strike benefits.  It’s $400.  It will last us a week, about.  I’m single, no children.  I have family back on the Big Island, which I do send money for my nieces.  So, we’re still gonna be out here ‘til Thanksgiving fighting for our contract.”


Kyo-Ya, the hotel owner, reportedly offered a wage increase last week, which the Local 5 union leadership rejected.  But, even if the hotel owner agreed to a 5 dollar-an-hour pay raise it would take the average hotel worker nearly 10 months to recoup 6 weeks of lost wages.  It would cost the hotel 13-thousand 500-dollars more an hour for its 27-hundred employees.  Jenny Johnson is a cook at the Sheraton Waikiki.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Jenny Johnson is a cook at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel

“The company’s making hundreds of millions of dollars every single year in profit.  I’m single.  I don’t have kids and I work two jobs.  Most of these people have families and because they can’t afford to live in Honolulu, they have to live far away and so they’re driving two or three hours worth of commute time every day.  And that is time lost with their families, time lost together, enjoying your life.  And that’s not acceptable any more.  There’s a point at which corporate greed has to stop and workers have to be paid legitimate wages for the  work that they do.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Janes Nakata has been a cook at the Princess Ka'iulani Hotel for 35 years.

One block away, James Nakata, says it’s the first time in 35 years that he’s not preparing Thanksgiving dinner for Princess Ka’iulani Hotel guests.  But, he says, he’s been on the picket line before.


“It’s my second strike.  So I know how it feels.  We strike the last time in the ‘90s.  That was like almost 3 weeks.  So that was rough.  So, it’s for the future, actually, yeah?  I’m retiring but I’m worried about my benefits because when I retire I wanna have my medical still intact and all the other things, right?”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Facing the breakfast buffet area at the Sheraton Waikiki


The union will provide the turkey, potatoes and gravy, and, strikers will bring in side dishes for a Thanksgiving Day meal in front of the Moana Surfrider Hotel.  Contract negotiations will resume November 26, when Kyo Ya responds to the Local 5 union’s counteroffer.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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