Hilton: Strike won't stop weekend wedding banquets

AP News
Posted: Oct 15, 2010 7:17 PM
Hilton: Strike won't stop weekend wedding banquets

Wedding banquets and other celebrations slated for the weekend at the Hilton Hawaiian Village are to be held as scheduled despite a strike by union employees.

Cynthia Rank, a spokeswoman for the largest resort in Hawaii, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the usual staff will be replaced by management and other nonunion workers from the resort in Waikiki and other Hilton properties, as well as temporary hires.

Members of Unite Here Local 5 began a five-day strike Thursday at the hotel, which has 3,600 rooms. The job action on the part of 1,500 union members includes housekeepers and food service workers.

The strike stems from a lack of progress in negotiating a new union contact to replace the one that expired June 30.

The union has complained that Hilton has tried "to lock workers into cheap recession contracts." The hotel said management was bargaining in good faith.

The last meeting between the union and Hilton's owner, Blackstone Group LP, was Sept. 29, following a Sept. 15 strike authorization vote. Negotiators are expected to return to the bargaining table Oct. 25.

"Their proposals to date have signaled to us that they're not serious about settling this contract," said Cade Watanabe, community and political organizer for the union.

Jerry Gibson, Hilton Hawaii's area vice president, said the company has offered to increase wages, maintain existing pensions and increase its health fund contributions to ensure employee health care remains fully paid with no employee contributions.

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"Yet even under current difficult economic conditions and with high unemployment, the union also continues to insist on unrealistic wage and benefit increases and several other costly proposals," Gibson said.

According to proposal highlights passed to union members, as of late September the union was seeking a three-year contract with average hourly wage increases of 40 cents the first year, $1 the second year and $1.25 the third year. Housekeepers at the Hilton Hawaiian Village currently earn about $16.50 an hour.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com