Long labor dispute is officially over
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lynda Arakawa
Turtle Bay Resort management and its employees' union, UNITE HERE Local 5, signed a four-year contract yesterday at a ceremony in the hotel's Kahuku ballroom.
The signing officially brings to a close one of the state's longest labor disputes. The deal, reached in late July, includes a $2.45 hourly wage increase over four years for most employees.
"We are happy because finally it is over," said Ceferina Domingo, a Turtle Bay housekeeper.
The Turtle Bay workers' contract expired in 1999. It was extended repeatedly until November 2003, when union members began working without a contract.
The contract agreement comes after years of bitter dispute, during which the union launched a consumer boycott of the hotel and picketed resort grounds.
"What we've learned is both sides know how to fight, and now we know how to talk and get things settled," said Eric Gill, Local 5 secretary/treasurer. "We learned a lot of lessons out there that we are putting to use right now in Waikiki."
Local 5 is now negotiating with eight Waikiki hotels on labor contracts covering more than 5,500 employees. Their contracts expired June 30.
Nearly 400 Turtle Bay employees voted unanimously to ratify the new contract, which includes wage increases, better medical benefits and workload standards for housekeepers. Local 5 said the agreement is binding to both the hotel and management company, meaning that any new owner or management company must also assume the contract's terms.
The labor agreement comes at a time when Turtle Bay developer Kuilima Resort Co. is seeking development partners for its planned expansion, which includes five new hotels with 3,500 rooms and condominium units, as well as four public parks. The expansion is based on a 1986 plan for the site and has prompted two lawsuits — including one from Local 5 — that seek a new environmental impact statement for the development.
Bob Boyle, Turtle Bay managing director, thanked the employees and said, "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, and I encourage you to join me as we head to new horizons."
Reach Lynda Arakawa at firstname.lastname@example.org.