Union calls for Pacific Beach boycott
Labor dispute may take years to resolve
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ILWU Local 142 and members of the newly formed Justice at the Beach coalition called for a consumer boycott yesterday against Pacific Beach Hotel owner HTH Corp., expressing outrage at the company's refusal to engage in bargaining with the union and its decision to lay off workers.
The last time HTH Corp. and the ILWU Local 142 were at an impasse in 2002, it took three years for the National Labor Relations Board to certify the union to represent workers at the Waikiki hotel. HTH Corp. says that certification has expired.
Both sides have filed new charges with the NLRB.
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ILWU Local 142 said yesterday that it will ask the National Labor Relations Board to force HTH Corp., the owner of Pacific Beach Hotel, to engage in collective bargaining, but conceded that a ruling from the federal board could take months or years.
The already tumultuous labor relations between the hotel workers' union and HTH Corp. reached the point of impasse on Monday when the kamaaina owner told union officials that it will challenge their right to organize at the property.
"There is no negotiating," said Robert Minicola, regional vice president for HTH Corp. "The union's National Labor Relations Board certification has expired."
The decision, although not completely unexpected by ILWU Local 142, represented a departure from the status quo under PBH Management, an Outrigger Enterprises Group affiliate. PBH Management had actively bargained with ILWU Local 142, but negotiations ceased when HTH Corp. took back management of the property. HTH Corp. resumed management of Pacific Beach Hotel on Saturday with about 45 fewer union workers.
HTH Corp.'s decision not to recognize bargaining rights for the ILWU Local 142, coming on the heels of worker layoffs, has led the union to file more NLRB charges against the company. It's also led to the formation of Justice on the Beach, a coalition of community groups and lawmakers who yesterday called for a consumer boycott of the Pacific Beach Hotel and its sister property, the Pagoda Hotel and Restaurant.
The coalition said it will promote a boycott until HTH Corp. negotiates in good faith with workers. State Reps. Tom Brower, Della Au Belatti, Michael Magaoy, Marcus Oshiro, Alex Sonson, Joseph Souki, Roy Takumi and State Sen. Clayton Hee also have joined coalition efforts.
"HTH Corp. has proven to be a shameful employer," said state AFL-CIO President Randy Perreira, a coalition member who represents an umbrella organization of some 70 unions across Hawaii. "Pacific Beach has a history of violating workers' rights going back to 2002 and they're doing it again with a mass firing and other shameful violations with workers' rights."
ILWU Local 142 said that it has struggled to get representation for Pacific Beach Hotel workers since 2002, but that HTH Corp. interfered with the bargaining process. Contract negotiations since December 2005 were unsuccessful; both sides have filed numerous charges with the NLRB.
The latest breakdown between ILWU Local 142 and HTH Corp. will further delay the process, said Dave Mori, Oahu division representative for the union.
"HTH Corp.'s claim will have to be resolved at a hearing," Mori said. "It could take months or years to resolve. However, we are confident that we will eventually prevail."
Dr. William J. Puette, director of the University of Hawaii's Center for Labor Education and Research, said that, though it's been relatively rare in Hawaii, there's been a national trend among companies to drag out negotiations and weaken unions.
"This is unfortunately a terrible case study for Hawaii that shows that we are not insulated from the kind of things that are going on in the rest of the country," Puette said. "It's sad that our current labor laws allow this kind of abuse. We need reforms."