One job should be enough
As almost everyone knows, Hawaii’s tourist industry has been raking in huge profits. Since the beginning of this year, the Marriott hotel system has generated more than $671 million in profits of which $41 million came in because of President Trump’s generous corporate tax breaks. In the meantime, Marriott hotel workers, like many others, are forced to work multiple jobs to support their families.
On Monday, Oct. 8, 2,700 Hawaii Marriott workers, led by their union Unite Here Local 5, who work at five of Hawaii’s most prominent hotels in Waikiki and Maui, decided to go on strike. More than 95 percent of union membership authorized this strike. The workers have been trying to negotiate in good faith for months, but Marriott has refused to consider their common-sense demands on the issues of job security around technology and automation and workplace safety.
They join other United Here affiliates in eight cities at 23 hotels nationwide. Their major but actually modest demand is that they should be justly compensated because one job should be enough! This most reasonable demand resonates with many of us here in Hawaii, who fear our bodies and minds will be broken before we reach retirement age. The ridiculous solution by Marriott bosses is for workers to get another job.
These hotels run by Marriott and owned by Kyo-ya are the Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and Sheraton Maui. Marriott-operated hotel properties on Kauai are not involved. The union is urging Hawaii residents, tourists, elected officials and political candidates not to patronize these hotels and to support the workers by not crossing their picket lines.
Marriott is the biggest and richest hotel company in the world, but they are refusing to share the wealth that their workers have created. Many of us work two or more jobs not because we’re greedy, but we won’t be able to pay our rent or mortgages. Our middle class families are being crushed. As recently reported by the Honolulu Board of Realtors, the median-priced, single-family dwelling now stands at $812,500. The courageous stance taken by Local 5 should be supported by all working people.
Raymond Catania, Puhi