by Lalaine Ignao, ABS-CBN News
HONOLULU, HI — Union organization Unite Here Local 5 has been in negotiations with Kyo-Ya Hotel and Resorts since this past summer, after contracts were expired and the company refused to renew them.
Kyo-Ya counts among the Marriott International Hotel Empire.
However, the workers have spoken and 99.6% ratified a new contract for Local 5 members, which includes a $1.50 raise.
“We really have achieved a very remarkable settlement where we significantly moved forward on job security provisions. We’ve moved our rights of our women members since majority of our members are women,” said striker Eric Gill. “We’ve moved forward on the wage line, on the benefit line, pretty much across the board.”
Contracts have also been settled with employees in Boston, Detroit, San Jose, Oakland and San Diego.
This strike marks the longest in Local 5 history, and Hawaii is one of the largest, representing 2,700 employees.
“It’s hard for the workers, 51 days without pay, but they did great and we got a good contract,” said Gemma Weinstein.
The workers say they are excited to return to work.
One striker in particular made an oath not to shave his beard until the strike ended.
“All of a sudden it became meaningful and something with purpose that it was like a symbol of what we were going through and that Ipromised everyone that when you see me like this, that means we have settled,” said Samuel Ho.
During the strike, local 5 went through five contract negotiations before agreeing to this contract.
“Now we actually have a voice. The thought and the voice now actually has a picture to it, and it’s perfect, this victory is the best Christmas present that we can ever get,” said Chester Corpuz.
With the ratification approved, hotel workers will start returning to work this week, ready to bring back the hospitality tourists have been looking for since the strike began in October.