For Immediate Release
September 19, 2007
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Hale Koa Workers declare victory in union election
Honolulu – UNITE HERE! Local 5, a local labor organization which represents nearly 12,000 hotel and service workers throughout the state of Hawaii, was elected today to continue representation of the more than 800 hotel workers at the Hale Koa Hotel – the U.S. Army owned and operated hotel located at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) in San Francisco announced today that by a margin of nearly 3-1, Hale Koa workers voted to continue to have UNITE HERE! Local 5 serve as their exclusive union representatives. Ricardo Rojo, a laborer at the Hale Koa said, “Everyone I know voted for Local 5 in this election. Winning this election to be represented by Local 5 is important to all of us. For me, it is about my family and future. I wanted a strong Union like Local 5 for job security.”
“I’ve helped build Hale Koa from the very beginning, I’ve worked here more than 30 years and we used to be one big ohana, but for the last few years, the management has been very ugly to us. This management treats us like we are the enemy and we are not-we are good workers that want to be treated with respect. Now that we’ve won the election by so much, we will begin to get that respect we deserve,” said Earlaina Sampson, a waitress at Hale Koa.
Today’s official vote tally marks a new beginning for workers at the Hale Koa Hotel who for years have fought for effective union representation. A total of 468 valid ballots were cast in the Union election and of that 350 voted yes for Local 5.
Bill Kearsley, a lifeguard at the Hale Koa for the past 12 years said, “The workers have spoken, and this validates our right for dignity and respect in the workplace. Who wouldn’t want the strongest hotel union to represent them? Local 5 is our choice!”
UNITE HERE! Local5 was originally elected to represent workers at the Hale Koa Hotel in August, 2006. Since that time and at every opportunity, from allegedly illegally attempting to limit the number of workers who can observe and participate in bargaining to attempts at limiting workers’ abilities to talk to union organizers, Hale Koa has acted to limit workers rights. Most notably, in a December 23, 2006 decision, an arbitrator wrote: “…I find there was retaliatory conduct due to the Grievant’s efforts to seek relief under the ADA and for his efforts on behalf of the Union.” The retaliatory conduct resulted in the termination of a worker, but the arbitrator ruled the worker be returned to work.
For more information on Hawaii Hotel Workers Rising and the Hale Koa campaign visit www.uniteherelocal5.org or www.halekoaworkeralert.info