On Sept. 10, 95 percent of Unite Here Local 5’s Marriott hotel workers and others here in Hawaii voted to authorize a strike. On Oct. 8, joining thousands of other Unite Here affiliated workers striking in cities like Boston and San Francisco, Local 5 hotel workers in Oahu and on Maui began their strike.

In Hawaii, it is common knowledge that it is very hard to live here, with Civil Beat reporting in June that statewide, workers needed to earn at least $36.1 an hour to rent a two-bedroom place at that point in time, and in 2017, CNBC placed Hawaii in the top 10 most expensive places to live in the U.S.

Demonstrators cross the Kalakaua Avenue and Lewers Street intersection near the entrance to the Sheraton Waikiki.

Demonstrators last week crossing the Kalakaua Avenue and Lewers Street intersection near the entrance to the Sheraton Waikiki.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Marriott, on the other hand, is doing very well, with Marriott International itself being worth about $49.4 billion according to Forbes magazine. Marriott’s hospitality empire is thriving because of its workers and, right now, when these same workers want to negotiate for better working and living standards in places like Hawaii, where its hard to live in the very cities the hotel workers work in, even if you are working two to three jobs, the bosses are refusing to come to the table.

Really, the struggles faced by Local 5 workers are our struggles, and what I’m saying is, that this fight is our fight and we need to stand alongside Local 5 and fight it with them.

As a member of Generation Z and a freshman at the University of Hawaii Manoa, I want to make an ask to young people like myself, but I hope to also impact the community at large as well. This strike is not just a union issue, it’s not just an issue for hotel workers.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Marriott strike has the potential to impact Hawaii’s society for generations to come. The dignity of a worker in a workplace, the impact of automation on workers and what to do, a livable wage, universal health care, addressing sexual harassment in the workplace in meaningful ways, the idea that one job should be enough to live off of, while also being able to spend time with your family, and so much more are being discussed right now on the picket lines.

The struggles faced by Local 5 workers are our struggles.

We have a chance right here and now to win a victory for the workers, that will help us in the long run in the education, the discussion, and the political and policy decisions that will shape the futures of our generations, our kids generation, and their kids in all of our continued work to shape a fair and just society for all.

That is why my ask is to do what you can. Whether that means taking an hour or two in your day to join the picket lines once a week at locations like the Sheraton Waikiki and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, volunteering your time at the Local 5 strike headquarters on King Street, or donating food and water to those who are in the picket lines day and night, every little bit helps. Unite Here Local 5 can and will win this fight, but they need the community’s help!

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About the Author

  • Jun Shin
    Jun Shin is a student at the University of Hawaii Manoa. He serves as the Environmental Justice Action Committee Chair for the Young Progressives Demanding Action-Hawaii, and is in the fourth cohort of the Hawaii Alliance For Progressive Action’s Kuleana Academy leadership development and nonpartisan candidate training program.