Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort workers ratify new contract

Workers receive raise, increased healthcare funding from hotel.

Waikoloa Village – 99 percent of union hotel workers at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort voted yes to ratify a new contract that will improve the lives of 288 workers and their families.

Under the terms of the new, two-year contract, non-tipped workers at the Waikoloa Marriott will receive wage increases of $1.67 per hour for two years, with full back pay to July 1, 2014. This is $0.27 more than the first two years of the current industry standard five-year contract, thereby narrowing the gap between Waikoloa and Waikiki hotel wages. Hotel management has also agreed to increase its contribution to the health & welfare fund, which funds the medical and pension benefits of union workers.

“This is a much needed wage increase for us,” says Peter Fukuyama, who has worked in the engineering department at Waikoloa Marriott for 10 years, “This also helps secure our medical and pension benefits.”

“It’s a step in the right direction so that we can catch up to the union standard that other Local 5 hotels have. We can achieve this if we all continue to stand together,” says Oren Yamagata, a bell captain who has worked at Waikoloa Marriott for 33 years.

Waikoloa Beach Marriott was recently purchased by SMG I Hotel Waikoloa LLC, a joint venture between mainland hotel investment firms Silverwest Hotel Partners LLC, Mariner Real Estate Management, and an affiliate of Global Endowment Management. Marriott will continue to manage the hotel. The ownership change will not affect Local 5 members at Waikoloa Marriott, who will continue their employment with Marriott.

Rep. Ing introduces “Kollin Elderts” bill

Would ban law enforcement officers from consuming alcohol while carrying a gun, even if off-duty

HB1129 seeks to prohibit law enforcement officers from consuming any amount of alcohol while in the possession of a firearm. The measure came as a result of a tragic incident, in which Christopher Deedy, a U.S. State Department special agent, in Hawaii to provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, fatally shot Kollin Elderts in the Kuhio Avenue McDonald’s restaurant in the early morning of Nov. 5, 2011. He was off duty at the time.

The measure was introduced by Rep. Kaniela Ing (Kihei, Wailea, Makena) at the request of the Elderts’ family.

“While no legislation can heal the pain that the Elderts’ family has endured, we need to take action to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future,” Ing said during a press conference held at the Capitol last Friday to call attention to the bill. “No matter where you stand on the Deedy trial, we can all recognize the dangers of carrying a firearm while intoxicated. This is a common sense bill that will save lives.”

It’s time to ban sex trafficking in Hawaii

Hawaii is only one of two states that still does not possess a comprehensive sex trafficking ban. Here are three bills that would change that.

Kris Coffield
Brigadier General to join Ige tax office; first deputy director re-appointed, Dep. of Health

Governor David Ige has announced the nomination of two deputy directors to his cabinet, subject to confirmation by the Senate:

Joseph Kim has been nominated to be the Deputy Director at the Department of Taxation where he will, “redeploy his extensive experience in training and commanding U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard personnel into effective administration of the tax laws for the state,” according to the governor’s office. Brigadier General Kim has served as the Deputy Adjutant General, Deputy Commander, Hawaii National Guard since 2011; Kim ran the day-to-day operations for the State Department of Defense.

Prior to that, he commanded the Air National Guard’s largest Wing, a combat ready 1900 person flying organization consisting of three major flying systems and associated support organizations, supporting over 2,500 personnel. He has trained military pilots and aircrews in various locations throughout the United States.

Kim earned an MBA at the City University of Seattle and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Mechanics.

“I’m glad that General Kim has agreed to continue to serve the State of Hawaii,” said Governor David Ige. “I’m confident that he will be able to translate his outstanding military record into exceptional results at the Department of Taxation.”

Keith Yamamoto, meanwhile, has been appointed to remain in his current position as the First Deputy Director of the Department of Health, a post he has held since March 2011. He is primarily responsible for overseeing the general administration of the department which includes budget, fiscal, facilities management, human resources, information technology, planning, vital records as well as the District Health Offices on the neighbor islands.

Prior to his appointment as First Deputy Director, Yamamoto was the Chief of the Department of Health-Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division; he worked for the Department of Human Services – Office of Youth Services as the Program Development Administrator; and has also managed various school-based vocational education and career development programs for at-risk youth while employed with the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Yamamoto received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Services from the University of Northern Colorado, and graduated from Pearl City High School.

“Keith Yamamoto has been a valuable leader within the Department of Health,” said Governor David Ige. “He is well respected and has shown he has the skills to move the department forward. I’m pleased that he will be continuing to provide his steady hand to this administration.”

Ethics Commission finds that development lobbyist failed to file disclosures

The State Ethics Commission has found that David Arakawa, lobbyist for the Land Use Research Foundation, failed to file nine lobbying disclosures. Here’s the commission’s report.

The Independent broke this story in 2014.

Ikaika M Hussey
Ige’s Department of Land and Natural Development?

Governor Ige's latest DLNR leadership move is a serious blow to advocates for resource protection and the ethical and legal use of water and a boon for development interests.

Karen Chun
Bill proposes state-wide ban on tobacco in state parks

Would include electronic smoking devices and betel nut products as well.

The House Committee on Health held decision making on HB525, which would make all state parks tobacco-free, earlier today. The nine-member committee unanimously passed the bill with amendments. Four voted aye, five voted with reservations.

On Saturday, January 31, Surfrider Foundation and the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai`i conducted four simultaneous beach clean-ups on Oahu (Ewa), Kauai (Anahola), and Hawaii Island (Kona and Hilo). Over 360 volunteers across the state collected and took a tally of the most littered items on Hawaii’s beaches.

“We collected over 15,000 cigarette butts along with 3,426 pieces of plastic and 1,386 pieces of foam from four beaches this Saturday,” said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii Coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation. “Cigarette butts, plastic, and expanded polystyrene foam are among the most littered items in Hawaii and the world.”

HB525 prohibits smoking and the use of tobacco, electronic smoking devices, or betel nut products within the state park system. Concerns centered on the ban on electronic smoking devices and betel nut, as well as with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ ability to enforce the ban.

Workers and community supporters to rally for better patient care

Local 5 Kaiser workers currently on strike will be joined by other Local 5 members and community supporters for a march through Waikiki and subsequent rally tomorrow.

Hundreds of community members and Local 5 members who work in the hotel and healthcare industry will be staging a march and rally in Waikiki on Thursday. An estimated 800 participants are expected.

Kaiser, Hawaii’s largest Health Maintenance Organization, is also a nonprofit. Yet, in the first three quarters of 2014, Kaiser Permanente reported net profits of $3.1 billion, adding to their $30 billion in cash reserves.

“I love my patients like family and want to give them the care they need and deserve. This community needs Kaiser to invest in people and workers like me, not just in new buildings and facility upgrades,” says Jonah Pascual, a medical assistant at Kaiser Permanente Honolulu.

Thursday’s community protest comes as nearly 1900 Local 5 Kaiser workers continue a week long strike that began on February 2nd. The last state-wide strike staged by Local 5 union workers at Kaiser took place in 1986.

Workers, including medical assistants, receptionists and housekeepers, are among the strong majority of workers who have been on strike protesting changes implemented by Kaiser that they say hurt patient care, such as closing urgent care clinics and laying off workers.

“As a single mom, good quality healthcare is really important to me,” says Lilibeth Herrell, a Sheraton Waikiki housekeeper, “Hawaii is my home, and in Hawaii we treat everyone with aloha. Yet Kaiser—a nonprofit—is acting like every other corporation that wants to take, take and take from us.”

“I’m a member of the AiKea Movement, and we stand for healthy communities that promote health as a basic human right,” says Dr. Christine Lipat, “I’m also a holistic chiropractor who is very much interested in wellness and in the big picture, that we need to organize together to take care of ourselves and each other for a healthy community.”

Local 5 represents nearly 1900 Kaiser Permanente workers on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.

Local 5 represents approximately 10,500 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.

Learning from the Cancer Center fiasco

A report confirming that Unit Director Michele Carbone ran the UH Cancer Center into the ground can teach us an important lesson about the systemic problems currently killing the University of Hawaii.

Will Caron
Fiji ditches the Union Jack: in pictures

Fiji will redesign its national flag to reflect the country as it is now rather than its colonial past. Here are other flags in history that incorporated the union jack

The Guardian