Workers want Waikiki pay
PO‘IPU — Union representatives say they will not compromise on wages during this round of contract negotiations with the Sheraton Kauai Resort.
Unite Here! Local 5, which represents 270 of the Sheraton Kauai’s 329 associates, wants the hotel to bring pay and benefits for Kaua‘i workers up to par with those of Sheraton’s Waikiki employees by the end of the three-year deal. Talks began Aug. 1 and were originally set to conclude before the previous contract expired on Aug. 31. To date, no agreement has been reached.
According to Local 5 representative and negotiator Daniel Kerwin, Kaua‘i workers make an average of 70 cents an hour less than Waikiki staff, depending on department. Kerwin said so far there has been no proposal that meets Local 5’s demands.
“We’re not backing down,” he said.
Sheraton Kauai General Manager Angela Vento declined to comment on the hotel’s stance on wages, as compensation has not been settled in negotiations. She said that in other areas, such as job responsibilities, the hotel was able to “meet or exceed” Waikiki’s contract.
Yesterday evening, roughly 80 employees demonstrated at the hotel, holding signs and chanting for about an hour.
Housekeeper Ana Cleto, an 18-year employee at the Sheraton, said that because of Kaua‘i’s cost of living, he deserves the same pay as someone with the same job in Waikiki.
“One job is not enough (here),” said Cleto, who works two.
Rose Hashimoto, a 23-year employee who works in food and beverage, said it all comes down to wages.
“Give us what the Waikiki guys have,” Hashimoto said. “We work hard for what we get.”
The hotel and union last met on Saturday. Vento said the hotel is moving forward to set the next meeting date and she is “very optimistic” that the two parties will reach an agreement.
“We look forward to being able to really understand their message,” Vento said.
Local 5 and Sheraton Kauai have a long-standing relationship, with relatively few contract disputes and only one strike in the past 20 years. This year, however, has seen increased union activity at the Sheraton. Yesterday’s rally marked the second concerning worker pay. In addition, Local 5 has held similar demonstrations on Maui.
Sheraton has six hotels in Hawai‘i, three of which are in Waikiki. All are operated by parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc.
Nationwide, Unite Here! Local 5 represents 57 Starwood hotels.
• Blake Jones, business writer/assistant editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or email@example.com.