For immediate release
September 29, 2004
Charles Mercer, President, Union Label & Service Trades Dept.
Jason Ward, HERE Local 5
Escalating a two-year battle to win job security language with the absentee owners of Turtle Bay Resort, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, the AFL-CIO has added the plush hotel and golf destination to its national boycott list. The action comes at the request of UNITE HERE Hospitality Industry President John Wilhelm and the union’s Local 5.
Turtle Bay was taken over by Oaktree Capital Management LLC -a vulture capital fund- some four years ago. Oaktree contracted the management of the luxury resort to Benchmark Hospitality, a Houston-based hotel management company with no experience in operating union hotels.
In late August, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Turtle Bay on charges brought by Local 5. The Board found that Turtle Bay management had conducted illegal surveillance of union supporters, harassed union agents and prohibited union officials from collecting dues on the hotel property. More NLRB charges are pending.
In addition to job security issues, Turtle Bay workers lag some $3 an hour behind their counterparts at other resort properties on the island. They have received only one 20-cent raise over the last decade.
With solid backing from more than 90 percent of its Turtle Bay members, Local 5 launched a limited boycott against the resort in November 2003 when it became apparent that the company would not yield on the job security language. The Hawaii AFL-CIO endorsed the boycott on November 18, 2003.
More than 260 housekeepers, food service personnel, maintenance and kitchen workers at Turtle Bay are solidly behind their union’s efforts. "Oaktree has invested over $60 million in fixing the building and grounds, and another $20 million in a Waikiki project. We know Oaktree is worth over $25 billion, so why can’t they take care of our contract?" asks union member Efren Panag.
The union is mounting a series of demonstrations coinciding with public events at the resort-including an upcoming Hawaiian Tropic Beauty Pageant and scheduled PGA golf tournaments. More information on the labor dispute at the Turtle Bay Resort is available at:www.TurtleBayBoycott.info