Local 5 reaches deal with Sheraton
Hotel workers union Local 5 will seek similar agreements with other Waikiki hotels
The Sheraton Hotels in Waikiki and Unite Here Local 5 reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract yesterday, following an agreement last week between the union and Hilton Hotels.
Sheraton's economic package is similar to the one agreed to by the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa. Union workers are scheduled to vote to ratify both agreements next Friday.
Local 5 now will seek similar agreements with the rest of the Waikiki hotels employing its workers.
"We are pleased with the outcome of the negotiations," said Eric Gill, Local 5 financial secretary-treasurer. "Sheraton stepped up to the plate and made the commitment to provide our members with excellent wages and meaningful improvements in health and welfare benefits that will help bring them into Hawaii's middle class."
Further details of the agreements with Hilton and Sheraton, where union workers have been without contracts since June 30, will be announced once they have been ratified.
The Sheraton contract would cover 2,500 employees at the company's four Oahu hotels, including the Sheraton Waikiki, Sheraton Moana Surfrider, Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani hotels.
The agreement with Sheraton addresses health care benefits, housekeeping workloads, pensions and job subcontracting, similar to the agreement with Hilton.
Hilton agreed to drop daily housekeeping workloads from 16 rooms to 15 as part of its package. At Sheraton, the daily quota was already 15.
However, Sheraton agreed to a new tiered system for checkout rooms. Housekeepers would be able to drop a room with six checkouts, two rooms with nine checkouts, three rooms with 10 checkouts -- and an additional room if they have to move between towers and wings.
In the past, Sheraton usually was the first to settle labor contracts with Local 5, setting the pace for union agreements for other local hotels. However, this time Hilton beat Sheraton to the punch, with a press conference last week announcing the tentative agreement.
"I don't think it was a race," said David Uchiyama, regional director of communications for Starwood, Sheraton's parent company. "We went through roughly 30 meetings with the union since May. ... Things remained pretty positive all the way through. Both sides worked really hard towards getting a fair agreement."
Negotiations on Tuesday went into the early morning hours, he said, and finished at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
Local 5 was particularly concerned with how Sheraton workers would be affected by redevelopment plans, which include an expansion of the four Waikiki Sheraton properties into five, along with a new timeshare at the Princess Kaiulani.
Roughly 450 workers would be affected, according to Uchiyama, but the company is looking to absorb as many as it can.
Both Hilton and Sheraton had been bracing for a strike, given that the majority of Local 5 workers had given their bargaining committee permission to call for one if talks broke down.
The agreements with Hilton and Sheraton are expected to set the standard for another 5,000 union workers at the Hyatt Regency, the Waikiki Beach Marriott, Kahala, Ilikai, Ala Moana and others.