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Monday, February 12, 2001

Workers picket
Maui resort

The Royal Lahaina is target
of a two-day labor action

By Gary Kubota

WAILUKU -- Nearly 300 employees went on a two-day strike at the Royal Lahaina Resort in Kaanapali today to protest alleged violations of federal labor law, including the imposition of a new contract. Workers plan to return to work Wednesday.

ILWU officials said one or more employees living on the property have been threatened with eviction if they participate in a strike.

"If they start doing illegal things like this, we're striking," ILWU official Leonard Nakoa said. "We're letting them know they're not above the law."

Nakoa said about 200 employees were picketing the hotel this morning and other employees were expected to participate in the demonstration this afternoon.

The hotel, owned by Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, is continuing "normal operations, with the same level of service . . ." said John Brunold, the hotel's general manager.

Both union and hotel officials were meeting today and expected to continue discussions through Thursday.

Hotel spokeswoman Sweetie Nelson said the hotel won't comment about the labor talks during negotiations.

Union official Gordon Lafer said employees have filed more than 100 labor grievances against the hotel in the past year and anger is rising. Lafer said labor talks have been taking place for eight months and employees decided on the strike in light of "ignoring the employee's legal rights."

Lafer said striking workers are "not trying to stop visitors from going into the hotel."

Officials said the union has filed five separate charges with the National Labor Relations Board, charging several violations, including a refusal to negotiate in good faith and unilateral increases in the workload without negotiations.

The union has taken the conflict to the mainland by publishing an advertisement in the Los Angeles Daily News, accusing the hotel's founder Ed Hogan of "an abuse of the aloha spirit." The advertisement was a petition signed by Maui Mayor James Apana, U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink (D, rural Oahu-neighbor islands) and some Maui council members, Lafer said.

Also, the Tri-Counties Labor Federation of Southern California has voted to boycott Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays.

The union said that after management rejected a settlement proposal made by Apana, the hotel unilaterally declared an impasse in negotiations last week and announced it would impose its own contract terms on employees. The union said since it takes both sides to reach an impasse, the union believes that Royal Lahaina has acted illegally in trying to unilaterally force its own contract terms on employees.

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