Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Real progress for hotel workers, union

That's a huge sigh of relief you heard yesterday, about 3:45 a.m., as Waikiki was bracing for a work stoppage and possible strike by 5,000 hotel workers from six hotels.

If, as it appeared late into the night, a strike had occurred, it might have snarled Waikiki, inconvenienced thousands of tourists, damaged local businesses and hobbled the start of the Asian Development Bank conference, which the state and the city have been trying hard to make a success.

Of course, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 5 was within its rights to handle its contract dispute with the employers in the way it did, including the work stoppage called early yesterday.

We questioned whether the timing of this action, coming at the start of the ADB conference, was wise for anyone in the industry, including the hotel workers. But they made their point, won a breakthrough in negotiations stalled for a year, and while details of the new contract have not been released, both sides are expressing satisfaction.

We also note the apparently harmonious presence on Local 5's negotiating team of arch-rivals Tony Rutledge, head of Unity House and former Local 5 leader, and Eric Gill, who ousted Rutledge from the Local 5 top spot in elections last year.

In February, Gill was removed from his position when national union leadership put Local 5 in trusteeship, following a dispute between Rutledge and Gill supporters.

Sherri Chiesa, the union's western regional director and trustee for Local 5, appointed both men to the union contract negotiations team, where it appears they performed well.

We'd suggest that if they can team up over negotiations, they can team up over anything at all if they choose to. In the interest of their membership and labor peace in Hawai'i, that's really their duty.