On the Picket Line

Hawaii hospital workers: ‘We’re proud’ voting up new contract

By Neil Tupas
May 8, 2023

WAIANAE, Hawaii — Members of the United Public Workers union at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital in Maui County ended their nearly two-month strike April 14, voting 87% in favor of a new three-year contract.

“We are proud,” Reynita Franco, a nurse’s aide at Maui Memorial, told the Militant. “This is the first time in 40 years working that I’ve been on strike. It’s a good  connection to other people, to get to know everyone. It’s really important.”

“It feels great,” Jonathan Cala, an air-conditioning mechanic there, said. “Our bond is really much stronger than before. We actually met up after work for 30 minutes just to exchange stories about our strike.”

“When we see each other in the hall, we don’t just smile, sometimes we hug,” housekeeper Margarita Javalde said. “I can’t explain the feelings you have when you realize you are a fighter.”

The key demands of the strike were for higher wages, no forced overtime and safe staff-patient staffing levels.

“They removed the mandatory overtime,” Javalde said. “Not everything we wanted was granted, but for the near future, we got something. And it’s not only for the union. Who knows if in the future our children or grandchildren will work here; at least they will have it as foundation.”