Maui hotel union on offensive

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LAHAINA, Maui -- A union representing workers at the Royal Lahaina Resort here is enlisting the support of travel agents and clients on the West Coast in a labor dispute with Pleasant Travel Service, which was founded by Ed Hogan.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, representing workers at the hotel, sent a letter to 1,000 travel agents and 5,000 retirees complaining of unfair treatment.

"The 300 workers of the Royal Lahaina Resort on the Island of Maui would like you to know about some 'un-pleasant' business taking place at their hotel," the letter said. "...what kind of business does Ed Hogan run?

"Royal Lahaina pays lower wages and charges more for health insurance than do nearby hotels. Last year Pleasant Travel Service cut off all contributions to the employee pension fund, even for employees who have given decades of service to the Hogans' hotel."

The union, which represents 300 employees at the hotel, has been negotiating with Pleasant for a new contract since the previous one expired at the end of May. That contract has been extended until a new one is hammered out.

Ed Hogan sent his own letter to the media, calling the union campaign to enlist travel agent support "a smear campaign to undermine the productivity of current labor talks with the union members."

A Pleasant spokesman said the company cut off pension contributions in April of 1999 as a temporary move to avoid taxes that was agreed to by the union.

Pension contributions will continue, the spokesman said, when more workers retire and the amount in the fund subsides.

"We've had agents respond to the letter out of curiosity but as far as we can tell it hasn't hurt business," the spokesman said.

Union representative Gordon Lafer said the object of the letter was not to turn business away, but simply to inform the traveling public about the treatment its members are getting.

"We think this is an important public issue," said Lafer. "Hotel employee benefits are by far the most important issue in the industry here. We want people to come to the hotel, but we think it's important they know what's going on."

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