Local 5 to rally for Royal Kona workers
Approximately 140 union workers at the Royal Kona Resort will hold a rally today seeking fair wages and other benefits, nearly a year after their contract expired.
Unite Here Local 5 said the Royal Kona workers are seeking a contract similar to ones covering more than 7,500 hotel workers on Oahu, Maui and Kauai.
"The goal has been, and continues to be, securing a fair contract reflective of some of the key standards already in place in every other county," said Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe. "Our members view the contract as a sign of how they're being treated. It's very symbolic in terms of getting the respect they've earned as loyal employees at the Royal Kona."
The next round of negotiations with Royal Kona management is scheduled to begin Monday.
Talks have been going on for at least eight months, with little progress, but Local 5 still hopes to come to an agreement -- this time, with a new lead negotiator for the hotel.
Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts -- a subsidiary of Pleasant Travel Service, founded by Ed Hogan -- owns the Royal Kona Resort as well as the Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui.
Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts did not return calls to the Star-Bulletin by press time.
In 2006, Local 5 union workers agreed to contracts with several major Waikiki chains, including Hilton Hawaii, Sheraton, Marriott, and Hyatt. Similar contracts followed on Maui and Kauai.
Among the main issues are fair wages, job security, access to affordable health care, and workloads.
Watanabe said fair wages are crucial at a time when Big Isle hotel workers are facing the higher costs of living, particularly the cost of gas.
Hotel housekeepers at the Royal Kona are assigned between 18 to 20 rooms a day compared to a workload standard of 15 rooms a day in Waikiki, according to Local 5. Royal Kona housekeepers also earn more than $2 an hour less than their counterparts in Waikiki.
Winnie Yamagata, a Royal Kona cashier for more than 37 years, said: "We do the same work and work just as hard and because of that, we deserve the same standard of contract and the respect from management that other hotel workers now have."
Local 5 has 300 to 400 members on the Big Island, at Royal Kona as well as the Waikoloa Marriott. A contract for about 200 workers at the Waikoloa expires at the end of the year.