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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:12 a.m., Friday, September 6, 2002

Hotel officials resume Hilton talks

By Kelly Yamanouchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

The union representing 4,000 hotel workers ended contract talks with Sheraton management early this morning in order to restart negotiations with Hilton this afternoon.

Talks between Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 5 and Sheraton parent Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. went until about 2 a.m., ending the third consecutive day of lengthy negotiations.

"They worked through many of the issues that they had, and so it's just a matter of having the time to finish it," said Starwood spokesman David Uchiyama.

He said a date has not yet been scheduled to reconvene.

The talks with Hilton management were originally scheduled for Wednesday, and had been postponed to allow talks with Starwood to continue. The union said talks are set to begin today around 3 p.m.

Attorney Robert Katz is the lead negotiator for both hotel companies.

Hotel officials did not characterize the tone of the talks or what the remaining sticking points might be. Local 5 spokesman Jason Ward has said the key issues to be ironed out with the hotels are subcontracting terms, medical coverage and wages.

Ward said that at some points negotiations have been tense, and that on Wednesday night, "we were almost out the door there, but cooler heads prevailed."

Gov. Ben Cayetano has been monitoring the situation.

The Local 5 talks continued as union officials said this week that a strike may be imminent at the five Waikiki hotels represented by Starwood and Hilton, as union leaders have grown increasingly pessimistic about contract negotiations that started in March.

Any job action could affect the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Sheraton Waikiki, Princess Ka'iulani, Sheraton Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian hotels.

Both sides had been preparing for a possible strike. Union members have been signing up for picket duty and making signs, Ward said.