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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 20, 2002

Contract situation prompts Local 5 march

By Susan Hooper
Advertiser Staff Writer

Members of Local 5 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union turned out for a march in Waikiki yesterday afternoon as contract talks with major Waikiki hotels continue.

Members of Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union marched down Kalakaua Avenue yesterday. Eric Gill, Local 5 secretary-treasurer, said the top issues are employee workloads and job security.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Eric Gill, the local's financial secretary-treasurer, described the gathering as "an expression of our frustration" on the progress of the talks, which began in March.

At least 1,000 workers were expected at the march, Gill said. About 5,000 employees are covered by contracts between Local 5 and the four Sheraton Waikiki hotels, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki and the Renaissance 'Ilikai Waikiki.

The union has had several bargaining sessions with the Sheraton properties and the Hilton Hawaiian Village, but has not begun talks with the Hyatt or the 'Ilikai, he said.

The top issues for Local 5, Gill said, are employee workloads, which he says have increased because of layoffs after Sept. 11, and job security, which is affected by hotels' increasing reliance on nonunionized work by subcontractors.

A Sheraton representative called Gill's comments "negotiating tactics."

"We would prefer to leave our negotiating to the bargaining table ... " said Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of Hawai'i operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which manages the Waikiki Sheratons. "We'd like to move things as fast as we can to get to a fair contract for our employees, but all sides have to want to reach that. So we look forward to continuing our discussions."

Hilton representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.