Science, time and Mauna a Wākea: the Thirty-Meter Telescope’s capitalist-colonialist violence

The ‪TMT‬ is, in fact, a part of a legacy of colonial-capitalist violence committed against Hawaii and Hawaiians, regardless of its scientific merit.

David Maile
Solidarity between Hawaii, Okinawa on U.S. militarism

Last week, protestors of another planned U.S. military base in Okinawa rallied outside the Japanese embassy in a show of solidarity with Hawaiians and other occupied indigenous peoples around the world.

Will Caron
Hawaii to adopt 100 percent renewable portfolio standard

Together with bills on solar PV and UH energy goals, HB623 accelerates the state’s energy push to 100 percent renewable by the end of 2045.

Will Caron
A non-indigenous defense of Mauna Kea

We've heard from multiple members of the lāhui about the importance of stopping the TMT project, but here's why non-Hawaiians should be invested in the Mauna Kea struggle too.

Khara Jabola-Carolus
OHA stops short of opposing TMT

The trustees decided that the neutral "rescind" option was a more strategic move than outright opposition, but many of the gathered members of the Hawaiian community were visibly (and audibly) disappointed that OHA did not take a stronger stance on the issue. (Includes video footage.)

Will Caron
Aston settles unfair labor practice charges with Local 5

But there are two highly conflicting accounts of what happened and why.

On April 30, Aston Hotels & Resorts settled unfair labor practice charges filed by UNITE HERE Local 5 over allegations that the hotel company violated federal labor law by intimidating and harassing workers at the Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew. The Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew employ 160 and 25 workers, respectively.

Aston’s settlement comes without the issuance of a complaint, the admission of any violation of the law or the imposition of any penalty, but it does require Aston to post notices in both hotels, informing employees of the settlement and that workers have a right to organize for a fair process to decide whether to form a union. The notice confirms to workers that the hotels “will not interrogate you about your union membership, activities, and sympathies” and “will not threaten you with adverse job consequences if you engage in union or other protected and concerted activities.”

In February of 2015, workers began organizing for a fair process for union representation. Workers from various departments voiced concerns about the lack of respect from management. According to Local 5, the hotels reacted by organizing an aggressive anti-union campaign that included threats, interrogation and surveillance.

According to Aston, however, most of the eight unfair labor practice charges related to an old employee handbook which Aston had not yet revised to comply with very recent NLRB decisions in cases involving mainland companies not related to Aston. Working with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Aston says it revised its employee handbook to clarify and correct the rules and policies questioned by Local 5.

“This isn’t about the handbook; this is about my coworkers and me being harassed to sign against the union,” said Cecilia Aradanas, a housekeeper at the Aston Waikiki Beach.

Aston is also contradicting the claim that it waged a campaign against workers, instead stating that the settled charges stem from a Local 5 campaign to force Aston to “waive the right of its valued team members to decide for themselves in a secret ballot election conducted by NLRB whether they wish to pay a significant part of their paycheck to Local 5 in order to be able to continue working.”

“Aston believes that the majority of its team members benefit from their union free status, which may explain why Local 5 has not simply asked the NLRB to conduct an election and let our team members decide instead of trying unsuccessfully to harass our team members and disrupt guest services,” said Kelvin Bloom, a spokesperson for Aston Hotels & Resorts, LLC. “We appreciate the assistance of the NLRB in successfully resolving the charges and we remain very proud of our valued team members’ continued support despite the periodic distractions from Local 5.”

“I’m glad we stood up to Aston for bullying us,” said Tino Fabro, who also works at the Aston Waikiki Beach housekeeping department. “Now that the federal government has stepped in, we hope that management actually follows the law. They said before that it will stop, but it never.”

“It’s great to hear that management is acknowledging that they shouldn’t be intimidating and threatening us,” said Mary Jane Padaca, a housekeeper at Hotel Renew. “We will continue to hold them accountable to that.”

Local 5 represents approximately 10,000 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international union that represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Will Caron
Hawaiian rights scrutinized, not considered, during TMT contested case

A response to Ian Lind's Civil Beat column, "Dangerous Intersection of Social Policy and the ‘Sacred.’"

Bianca Isaki
Environmental groups oppose gutting of environmental funds

15 environmental groups have written an open letter to the State House and Senate finance committee chairs urging them not to appropriate money from, or modify in an any way, several vital environmental funds.

Sovereignty pains

The journey toward self-determination for Native Hawaiians does not come without its own form of growing pains.

Will Caron
Aston Hotels & Resorts responds to Local 5 claims

A week after the local labor union filed unfair labor practice charges against Aston, the hotel company responded with the following statement.

Statement from Aston Hotels & Resorts

Local 5 has filed several unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) related to the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel and Hotel Renew. We are currently working with the NLRB on resolving those charges. As this is a pending matter, we cannot discuss the matter further other than to say that most of the charges relate to our former employee handbook policies and some miscommunications between employees that have since been corrected.

Like most employers, we are adjusting older employee handbook policies to reflect very recent changes required by new NLRB decisions in mainland cases, and the recent NLRB General Counsel memorandum on employee handbooks which was released just last month.

The current dispute between Local 5 and Aston is the result of Aston’s refusal to agree to Local 5’s demand that Aston waive its team members’ right to decide for themselves in a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB and whether they need to pay a significant part of their paycheck in union dues.

Aston has a unique business model based on its non-union status that has provided consistent work opportunity and benefits to its many employees through good times and difficult times without any involvement by Local 5. We look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with our team members that recognizes and responds to the legitimate needs of our team members and guests.