Union workers held a protest yesterday in front of the Ilikai hotel.
Ilikai workers and unit owners rally to "save the Ilikai"
A simmering dispute between union workers and management at the Ilikai Hotel came to a boil yesterday as employees rallied against what they describe as a rapid deterioration of the landmark Waikiki property as well as hotel services over the past 18 months.
Disheartened by layoffs, workload and changes in staffing, workers joined by some owners of units in the condotel say they were protesting yesterday to "save the Ilikai" from further deterioration and staff cuts by Anekona LLC, which bought the property in July 2006.
Anekona is cutting its housekeeping work force on April 1 because of low occupancy anticipated over the next two months. The company has reduced a work force of nearly 400 in 2006 to 120 workers, according to Unite Here Local 5, the workers' union.
"We believed in him because he was local -- locals take care of locals -- so it's devastating to us that this is going on," said Tammy Omoso, a front-desk clerk who has worked at the Ilikai for 20 years.
Anekona's owner, Big Island developer Brian Anderson, has ambitious plans for a $60 million renovation. Anderson says a group of dissident unit owners have stalled his project, but that the majority of the Ilikai workers are content.
"They're not unhappy -- they've got their raises, we give them all the work we can and we're struggling," he said.
Among the major issues troubling the union is an agreement with Anekona to continue contributions to the health and welfare fund, so that employees whose hours are cut during renovations can continue to receive full medical benefits. That agreement expires on May 31, though major renovations haven't yet begun.
Anderson said he will still honor the agreement, but workers say they have tried unsuccessfully to meet with Anekona executives -- including general manager Teri Orton -- to extend the agreement.
Anderson said the union hasn't brought any of these issues to his attention. Orton didn't return a call for comment.