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Ilikai Hotel Union Workers Overwhelmingly Ratify Wage
and Benefit Agreement; No Word on When Hotel Will Reopen

By Robbie Dingeman, The Honolulu AdvertiserMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 16, 2009--Union workers at the Ilikai Hotel today voted overwhelmingly to ratify an agreement that will enable the iconic hotel to reopen soon, union officials said.

"Today marks an important day in our efforts to secure our future at the Ilikai," said Tammy Omoso, a 22-year veteran of the hotel.

"Our votes today reflect the true love and commitment we have always had for the Ilikai, and we are excited about the future role we'll have in rebuilding the hotel."

Hotel management and labor officials made separate announcements about the deal last Friday, just a day after the hotel was shut down.

The owner, iStar Financial LLC, closed the Ilikai's 203 hotel units for what it thought would be an indefinite period, citing operating losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.

The iStar officials weren't immediately available yesterday for comment on when the hotel might reopen.

Under the new union contract, wages, benefits and job security provisions will remain intact for 50 workers expected to return when the hotel reopens, said union officials. There were 75 workers when the hotel closed.

The new owners said employment will be offered to Ilikai workers by seniority.

"The last week has been a rollercoaster of emotions, but I'm very happy with today's vote because it moves us one step closer to getting back to work and it gives us the opportunity to work hard to make the new Ilikai a success," said Lorna Marcos, a 25-year housekeeping clerk there.

The bulk of the roughly 25 positions being eliminated are expected to be food and beverage jobs, because the company has stated it will not be operating food and beverage services.

The 806 condominium and timeshare units in the Ilikai complex were not directly affected.

The Ilikai was built in 1964 by developer Chinn Ho as part residential condominium, part hotel.

Those employees not being rehired are being given compensation packages that will be administered by the union. iStar acquired the hotel portion of the property from developer Brian Anderson's Anekona Development through a foreclosure action. iStar filed a foreclosure suit in August 2008 after it defaulted on the loan.

iStar is a publicly traded real estate investment trust that's not in the hotel management business. The company's subsidiary, iStar FM Loans LLC, acquired the $141 million mortgage on the Ilikai in 2007 from Fremont Investment & Loan.

According to iStar's foreclosure lawsuit, iStar was owed about $72.7 million at the end of October on loans that Anderson defaulted on.

In April, iStar bid $35 million for the 203 condominium units that make up the hotel portion. iStar doesn't have to pay $35 million for the hotel, but just deduct that from the $72.7 million it is owed.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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