Honolulu airport union workers rally for better wages and benefits
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At Hawaii’s main international airport in Honolulu, UNITE HERE Local 5 members at HMSHost Honolulu—workers at the concessions, restaurants, Starbucks, and bars in Daniel K. Inouye Airport—rallied today to show strength and unity as they demand the company make One Job Enough to live in Hawaii.
HMSHost workers are on the front line of Hawaii’s tourism industry. They are the first and last workers who serve nearly 10 million Hawaii travelers every year. As the backbone of Hawaii’s economy, workers deserve good wages, free union healthcare, and retirement benefits.
HMSHost is “the world’s largest provider of food and beverage services for travelers”. While the company boasts an annual sale of 3.5 billion dollars, HMSHost employees in Hawaii get unlivable wages and pricey health insurance premiums.
Kaimoku Kelii, a server at Stinger Ray’s, shared why he is fighting for a better contract with HMSHost, “The company is not taking us seriously; we are working hard, but not getting the wages and benefits we deserve. I’ve been a server for four years, but my pay is still a couple of cents above minimum wage.” Highlighting the importance of getting the union medical benefits, Kaimoku added, “I refused to go to the doctor for two years because of the anxiety of how much it might cost. That’s why we’re here rallying to show the company that we will do what it takes to get our contract.”
Contract bargaining agreement between HMSHost Honolulu and Local 5 expired in December 2018, impacting over 500 workers. Both parties entered negotiations in September, where the union proposed improvements on wages and benefits and for workers to be covered by the union medical benefits (under the Union’s medical plan, hotel and healthcare workers pay $0 for full family coverage). But instead of working with the union on these proposals, HMSHost brought forward takeaways from employee holidays and other benefits.
Airport workers demand that One Job Should Be Enough in the sector that contributes significantly to Hawaii’s largest industry. Hundreds of workers joined the action to show solidarity with HMSHost workers— UNITE HERE Local 5 hotel workers, flight attendant members of AFA-CWA, I.U.B.A.C. (Mason’s Union) Local 1, and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 480. The rally to support HMSHost workers sought to educate visitors and the public of this ongoing issue. The next round of contract negotiations between HMSHost and Local 5 is scheduled on November 6.