Hotels Scramble to Replace Striking Workers
HONOLULU (AP) _ Strike-bound hotels are flying in support staff and advertising for replacement workers as they struggle to keep some of Hawaii’s biggest hotels open for tourists.
The 7,500 members of the Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union went on strike Saturday in a contract dispute against 11 major hotels and resorts in Hawaii.
The hotels remained open Sunday but many closed their restaurants and snack shops and curtailed services after the strike began. The 11 hotels account for one of every five hotel rooms in Hawaii and two of every five hotel rooms in Waikiki, the state’s main tourist destination.
Federal mediator Frank Schoeppel said no new contract talks will be scheduled for at least seven days.
Tony Rudledge, union president, promised to pressure hotel management until the union’s demands are met.
″We may be having some massive sit-ins that the employers may not like and we may get arrested for trespassing,″ said Rutledge. ″You don’t get too far walking in a (picket) circle.″
Hilton Hotels, owner of Hilton Hawaiian Village, the largest resort in Hawaii with 2,532 rooms, brought in about 50 managers from the mainland, said spokewoman Jeanne Park. The hotel also was hiring temporary replacements.
Park said the resort almost had the 700 to 750 people it needed for the day shift Saturday. The hardest spots to fill, she said, were maids and cooks.
The Hyatt Regency Waikiki started shifting managers from its hotels on other Hawaiian islands Thursday, said Joanna Robles, director of public relations who also was supervising a housecleaning crew.
The Hyatt wasn’t signing temporary workers, she said.
Sheraton Hotels started a radio advertising campaign Saturday to recruit as many as 2,000 temporary workers, said spokeswoman Maggie Wunsch.
Neither side expected a quick resolution to the dispute, which centers on wages and benefits, as well as union demands for a 5 percent room surcharge that would be divided among all workers who don’t get tips and a 15 percent surcharge on all food and beverage purchases.
Bill Crawford, executive director of the Council of Hawaii Hotels, which represents employers, said the union rejected a four-year deal that called for annual wage increases of 5 percent plus hikes in benefits that boosted the total package to around 7 percent a year.
Rodriguez said the union calculated the management proposal at around 4 percent, which he said was lower than the 5 percent package offered Friday.