|By Alan Yonan Jr., The Honolulu
Star-AdvertiserMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 09, 2011--Unionized workers at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa -- trying to gain leverage in stalled contract talks -- have approved calling for a boycott of the hotel.
In a vote taken Wednesday, nearly all of the 500 Hyatt union workers in Waikiki supported the encouragement of a boycott.
The boycott is the latest development in the labor dispute between the hotel and Local 5 Unite Here Now that has included a one-day strike and civil disobedience by union members in front of the Hyatt. The company and the union have conducted sporadic negotiations with no resolution since the last contract expired nearly a year ago.
Although exact details of the boycott have yet to be finalized, it will include a public education campaign to explain why the union feels workers are being treated unfairly, said Cade Watanabe, union spokesman. Other Unite Here locals have organized similar boycotts at 17 other Hyatt hotels in the United States and Canada.
"Generally speaking, you can expect that we will organize as effectively as we can to communicate the message about why workers have chosen to endorse the boycott," Watanabe said. "The basic message is: Reward companies who treat their workers fairly and penalize those who don't."
One of the major points of dispute in the contract talks is the company's move to use subcontractors to perform a range of duties at the hotel, including maintenance work, night cleaning and some food and beverage operations, Watanabe said.
The Hyatt Regency Waikiki issued a statement saying the union "continues to mislead the public about Hyatt's serious efforts to reach an agreement that benefits our associates."
At the last round of labor talks, Hyatt officials said they offered a proposal that "mirrored" contract agreements reached last fall with workers at the Hilton and Starwood hotels in Waikiki.
Hyatt has been working to schedule contract talks "in good faith" for more than a year, according to the statement.
"In contrast to the respect we are showing for the negotiation process, Unite Here leadership has chosen to stage demonstrations that could lead to lost wages and tips, reduced shifts, fewer room nights for guests, canceled meetings and more which will directly impact our employees and their families," the hotel's statement said.
The next round of contract talks is set for June 27 and 28.
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