Union representing Sheraton local files unfair labor charge

Filing stems from trespassing charges

The union representing striking workers at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the hotel for banning three of its employees for one year.

UNITE HERE Local 5 announced Tuesday that it had filed the charge, alleging violations of federal labor law against the three employees, who were asked to leave hotel grounds on Friday while passing out leaflets to guests informing them of the strike.

“By banning us from Sheraton Maui for one year, they’re basically firing us,” Roel Lizada, a Sheraton Maui bell and valet worker, said in a statement Tuesday. “I am very disappointed in Kyo-ya, especially when they’re claiming that they want to welcome workers back. I’m glad Local 5 filed this charge and is standing up for our rights.”

Lizada was one of three employees passing out leaflets to guests in the hotel’s porte cochere near the entrance where cars come to valet. Hotel security asked the workers to leave and eventually called the police, who handcuffed Sheraton server Bernie Sanchez when the workers attempted to leave. The hotel issued trespassing notices to the three employees, banning them from the property for a year.

“According to the report, no one was arrested,” police spokesman Lt. Gregg Okamoto said Tuesday. “Police witnessed the hotel issue the trespass notice to two females and one male, all adults. All three left the property on their own.”

Sanchez wasn’t overly concerned by the trespass notice, saying that she knew “it wouldn’t stick,” because as an employee of the Sheraton she still had a right to be there.

“They can’t do that,” Sanchez said Monday. “That is our right, and they are in violation of our right.”

The unfair labor practice charge states that on Friday, the Sheraton Maui “interfered with, restrained and coerced employees . . . by telling employees that they were not permitted to distribute leaflets to customers, causing an employee to be detained and handcuffed, evicting the employees from the employer’s property, banning employees from hotel property for one year and thereby constructively discharging them and threatening employees with arrest and prosecution if they remained on or returned to the property.”

Since Oct. 8, some 2,700 hotel workers have been on strike at the Sheraton Maui, Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. The five hotels are operated by Marriott and owned by Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts. Workers have been keeping up the picket line 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In total, 7,700 Marriott hotel workers from 23 hotels in eight cities have been on strike since last week, including Boston; San Francisco; San Jose and Oakland, Calif.; San Diego; and Detroit.

The union represents about 335 workers at the Sheraton Maui; their contract expired June 30, and the union has been in negotiations with the hotel since then.

Hotel workers have been calling for higher wages and better benefits under the rallying cry of “one job should be enough.” Workers said they’re also concerned about losing their jobs to outside contractors and automation.

Kyo-ya did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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