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
Turtle Bay was taken over by Oaktree Capital Management LLC some four
years ago. Oaktree contracted the management of Turtle Bay to Benchmark
Hospitality, a Houston-based hotel management company.
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.
Oaktree—a venture capital company—hired Benchmark Hospitality of
Houston, a company with no experience in operating union hotels, to run
the day-to-day operations at Turtle Bay.
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,
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
The union is mounting a series of demonstrations to coincide with public
events at the resort—including an upcoming Hawaiian Tropic promotion
and scheduled PGA golf tournaments. Check the website:
http://www.turtlebayboycott.info/ for the latest updates on this boycott.