Pleasant founder responds to union charges


KAANAPALI, Hawaii -- A union representing 373 employees at the Royal Lahaina resort here is resorting to "dirty tricks, name-calling and unethical practices" to get its way during contract negotiations at the hotel, according to Ed Hogan, founder of Pleasant Travel Services, which owns the Maui hotel.

Hogan was responding to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 142's public airing of five complaints it has made to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) about unfair treatment the union is receiving at the hotel.

The union's contract expired in May and has been extended until a new one is hammered out. The two parties will meet again Dec. 21 with Hogan traveling to Maui for the negotiations.

"The ILWU representatives can file all the court papers they want to gain publicity for themselves, but the fact remains that these complaints are proving to be without merit," Hogan said in a statement.

In its latest complaint, the union charged that the hotel is unlawfully demanding to know the names of employees who meet with union representatives during their break times.

Not included in the five complaints are a dispute over $100,000 in back wages owed to some of the 300 employees, according to the union; company contributions to the employee pension fund, which were stopped in 1999, and basic wages.

Some of the complaints brought to the NLRB by the union include the hotel restricting the number of union representatives allowed to negotiate with the hotel, the hotel forbidding hotel workers to talk to the press, union representatives being banned from the hotel cafeteria and a dispute over increased pay for hotel maids who use toxic cleaning chemicals.

In his statement, Hogan outlined "Union Demands/Claims" and "The Truth."

He said the fact that the hotel stopped contributing to the employee pension fund "was in order to stay within the guidelines set by the Pension Board and approved by the union." Further, he said, other hotels on Maui "have similarly suspended contributions to avoid an over funding of the pension fund."

Responding to the union complaint that it cannot visit its members at the hotel, Hogan said "the union is making unreasonable and unnecessary demands for access with an unlimited number of nonemployee-union representatives ... This is disruptive to hotel operations and unreasonable."

The $100,000 the union claims is owed to employees in back pay "is simply not true, and we are not bound to release any records," said Hogan.

As for housekeepers complaining about toxic chemicals they must use on the job, Hogan said, "The fact is that cleaners used are comparable to those commonly found in any grocery store, like Tilex. There has never been a workers' compensation claim for illness or injury caused by cleaners used at the hotel."

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