Yesterday, eturbonews published an article about workers who filed a class action lawsuit against hotel owner and operator Diamond Resorts, charging for alleged wage theft. Around 325 employees, many from UNITE HERE Local 5, from 3 hotels – The Modern Honolulu, Kaanapali Beach Club, and The Point at Poipu – are represented in the lawsuit.
Today, eTN was contacted by Diamond Resorts to tell its side of the story and respond to the article’s allegations. Here, the company points to what it describes as inaccuracies:
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“This resulted in workers not being able to pay bills on time and incurring overdraft fees.”
Diamond Resorts already reimbursed overdraft fees in full.
“…announced to the Union that it would immediately lay off the entire banquets department …”
The layoffs are not taking effect immediately. They will be effective August 15. Severance packages are being offered to impacted employees.
“First, Diamond Resorts failed to pay us on time, which is why we filed this lawsuit. Then they respond by laying off my entire department. This is unacceptable and a huge injustice, not only for myself and my coworkers but our whole community. According to Diamond Resorts’ numbers, they will be saving $2.3 million per year by doing a mass lay off. Diamond Resorts is bad for Hawaii. This is money that was going to local families, but Diamond Resorts is now snatching it away and taking it off island,” says Spurling.
Diamond Resorts made the decision to proceed with these layoffs before this lawsuit was filed, therefore the layoffs are not a response to this lawsuit.
“… Diamond Resorts immediately implemented the banquet department layoffs and has said it will refuse further meetings with the Union and workers.”
The layoffs are effective August 15. The company did not refuse further meetings, and there are actually meetings scheduled for August.
“Why won’t Diamond meet with us?” Spurling wondered, ”Steve Bell [Executive VP of Human Resources for Diamond Resorts] needs to face the workers and take us seriously. We are being impacted by Diamond’s desire to profit at the expense of workers like me, our families, and our communities.”
Bell has repeatedly met with the workers and has future meetings scheduled.
The Modern is a full-service hotel, but Diamond Resorts has expressed interest in partially or fully converting the property into a timeshare. They also plan on cutting guest services like daily room service, meetings, and catering. The immediate layoff of the entire banquet department means banquets services are no longer available at The Modern. However, they have not received timeshare registration approval from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs or the permits needed to build or renovate hotel rooms into timeshares, so it is unclear why layoffs are necessary at this point.
The layoffs are effective August 15 (NOT immediate).
Banquet services have not been available since April 30, 2019.
As written, this suggests the banquet services were still being offered, which is not true.
“Timeshares pay less than hotels for more difficult work, and they provide less jobs.”
Where are the statistics or facts backing up this assertion as we are deeply concerned that this is one-sided bias information.
UNITE HERE responded…
These responses by Diamond Resorts were then made available to UNITE HERE Local 5 who had their own responses to these statements:
– We stand by our statement that this issue did lead to workers not being able to pay bills on time and incurring overdraft and money wiring fees. State law is quite clear that a delay in paying workers within a specific time of work performed requires additional monetary penalties. We have gotten no word that Diamond is voluntarily paying that additional amount to workers.
– We stand by our statement that when the lawsuit was filed in state court on July 23, Diamond Resorts announced to the Union that it would no longer delay the lay off the entire banquets department at The Modern Honolulu. The company is saying these layoffs will go into effect on August 15 and they refuse to meet with the Union and workers to discuss the layoffs.
– We have contract negotiations scheduled with the company, but they have clearly stated to us that they refuse to meet about the layoffs. As our press release states, we filed federal charges against the company with the federal agency National Labor Relations Board because it implemented layoffs without negotiating with us, but once it promised to meet with us to discuss the layoffs, we agreed to withdraw the charges on the condition that representatives from Diamond continue to meet with us about the layoffs. But now Diamond’s attorney is saying they no longer want to meet about the layoffs.
– We stand by our statement that Local 5 has been saying for several years that timeshares have a negative impact on workers, guests, and Hawaii. To add to that, just recently, a worker at The Modern was berated by management for saying the word “timeshare.” She was told that they’re not allowed to say that word to guests because of the “negative connotations” attached to the word.