Local 5 members claim Hale Koa blocked leafleting on sidewalks
The union has sued the hotel and its owner, the U.S. Army
Less than a month after Unite Here Local 5 became certified as the representative for workers at the Army-owned Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki, four members of the union have sued, alleging that the Army and Hale Koa management violated their civil rights.
The suit, filed Sept. 5 in U.S. District Court, charges that Hale Koa management and security officers threatened union members Bill Kearsley, Loreta Tactay, Nelly Nam and Laura Moye with physical force and arrest for passing out leaflets to prospective members on the sidewalks outside of the hotel.
Union members were able to pass out leaflets for only 20 minutes before they were ordered to leave, Moye said. The union has argued in its lawsuit that the sidewalks in front of the Hale Koa are part of the Waikiki transportation grid and should not be considered a part of the hotel.
"The Hale Koa and the Army are in violation of restricting free speech," Moye said. "For a hotel employer in Waikiki, this is a new low."
An Army spokesperson could not locate a representative for comment yesterday.
The union decided to sue after repeated attempts to discuss free speech rights with the Hale Koa and the U.S. Army fell on deaf ears, Moye said. The suit contends that the public should have the same rights of communication there as on any other public sidewalks.
Workers at the Hale Koa voted in April to join Local 5. Some workers previously had been represented by the federal union SEIU/NAGE Local 556, though membership was optional.
In the midst of this new lawsuit, Local 5 is preparing for contract negotiations. The labor contract at Hale Koa will expire Nov. 16.