Labor board schedules unfair labor practices hearing on Aqua-Aston

Thirteen unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Aqua-Aston since February.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint today against Aqua-Aston Hospitality in response to five unfair labor practice charges filed by UNITE HERE Local 5 against Aqua-Aston (formerly Aston Hotels & Resorts) since July. The charges include allegations that Aqua-Aston unlawfully threatened and discriminated against workers for engaging in lawful union activity, even going so far as to discipline two workers and terminate one.

In April, the NLRB issued a complaint against Aqua-Aston for eight additional unfair labor practice charges. Local 5 alleged that Aqua-Aston violated federal labor law by intimidating and harassing workers at the Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew. Aston agreed to settle these allegations by posting notices in the hotels committing that the hotels “will not threaten [employees] with adverse job consequences if [they] engage in union or other protected and concerted activities.”

The new complaint alleges several instances where Aqua-Aston management continued to threaten workers for engaging in union activities, even after it agreed to a settlement in April promising to cease these unlawful threats.

Edgar DeGuzman, a maintenance worker at Aston Waikiki Beach, says he received a written warning just for mentioning the union.

“This isn’t right. The hotel posted these notices, and then I got disciplined just for talking about the union. I am happy to hear that the NLRB is going to schedule a hearing,” said DeGuzman.

Another charge alleges that Gary Ettinger, Executive Vice President of Operations, “threatened employees with the loss of their jobs for engaging in union and/or protected concerted activities.”

The NLRB complaint notifies both Aqua-Aston and Local 5 that a hearing will take place starting February 2, 2016.

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is owned by Xenia Hotels and Resorts (NYSE:XHR), a recently spun-off affiliate of Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc.

Nai Aupuni releases strange, defensive statement regarding protesters

The statement has no attribution and insinuates that protesters like Walter Ritte, who held a press conference about his own decision to abstain from the Nai Aupuni aha process and withdraw as a candidate this morning, are refusing to participate because they are afraid that they won’t get their way. Here is the statement:


HONOLULU – Na‘i Aupuni encourages Native Hawaiians to voice their opinion on the election process because the voters and delegate candidates should hear all voices.

However, the fact that some Native Hawaiians protest because they are concerned that their desired outcome will not be accepted emphasizes the need for a Native Hawaiian convention. Without a process where elected leaders can discuss various options and issues to find a consensus, the Native Hawaiian community will never proceed forward in unity. The outcome of the Na‘i Aupuni process, which involves 90,000 potential voters and 200 candidates, cannot be predetermined but it will be an important first step toward achieving Native Hawaiian solidarity.

In fact, protesters like Ritte and Andre Perez, have repeatedly said that their concern stems from the use of the Kana‘iolowalu roll, which did not come close to including even a majority of possible Hawaiian registrants and which, as a roll controlled by the State of Hawaii, is inherently another form of U.S. control and occupation over Hawaii.

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Sierra Club calls for decommissioning of Red Hill fuel tanks

The nonprofit says the navy-EPA agreement to retrofit and monitor the historically leaky tanks near Pearl Harbor is inadequate.

Above: Former Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter tours the Red Hill underground fuel storage facility in 2007 to get a first-hand look at the condition of the tanks. | wikimedia

The Sierra Club of Hawaii has expressed “extreme disappointment” in Governor Ige, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for agreeing to a settlement that the nonprofit says does not do nearly enough to protect Oahu’s drinking water from the massive, “historically leaky” fuel storage tanks beneath Red Hill.

“The Navy should not be allowed to take unacceptable risks like this with our water,” said Sierra Club of Hawaii Director Marti Townsend. “The tanks have already leaked, future leaks are foreseeable, and there no is way to treat leaks before contamination reaches our water; the only reasonable course of action is to retire the storage tanks.

“Public safety dictates we take the most precautionary course of action,” added Townsend. “Hawaii’s Commission on Water Resources, Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply, 18 legislators, and hundreds of residents have expressed serious concerns about the inadequacy of the Navy’s proposed agreement. Yet, these substantive recommendations were not adopted in the final agreement.

“It is misleading to say that these historic tanks comply with current state and federal requirements for underground storage tanks because these tanks are exempt from the most meaningful requirements, such as double-lining,” said Townsend.

The Sierra Club says its own research into the Red Hill situation found that these 70-year-old tanks cannot be brought into compliance with current standards for underground storage tanks.

“This means the Navy cannot ensure that fuel released from these tanks will be contained before it reaches the environment, ” said Townsend.

In addition, Sierra Club found that there are no known methods for removing jet fuel from bedrock, which surrounds the tanks.

“The reality is that adding more monitoring wells around the tanks is, itself, a risk because drilling could fracture the bedrock, creating new cracks that would lead the fuel directly to our underground drinking water aquifer,” Townsend said.

“There is no justification for exposing the people of Hawaii to this kind of risk,” continued Townsend. “The U.S. Navy and the industries that rely on these fuel reserves should immediately identify new storage arrangements that comply with today’s strict environmental standards and retire these historic tanks.”