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Victory: Alliance, HNHP, and Unite Here Local 5 Save Healthcare Services and Jobs in Hawaii


“Our nurses carried out their mission to protect the patients by ensuring access to timely, high-quality care that will save the lives of our members on Maui – these nurses worked super hard to keep the services in-house for the welfare of the community.”

— MAUREEN MEEHAN-GOLONKA, INTERIM PRESIDENT OF HNHP

This week, Alliance locals in Hawaii won a significant victory when KP reversed its plans to eliminate two departments at its Wailuku clinic and transfer the work to Maui Health System and an outside contractor. In August 2020, KP informed union leadership that it planned to close the Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) and Gastroenterology clinic (GI) at its Wailuku location, laying off 18 HNHP nurses and 14 Local 5 members as soon as October 2020. They cited building code violations from the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) as the rationale.


UNITE-HERE Local 5, HNHP, and the Alliance swung into action, discovering that DOH had notified KP about the violation eighteen months prior. Instead of engaging labor immediately, KP had unilaterally concluded that its only option was to eliminate long-standing employees and services at its Maui clinic, disrupting care for many Maui patients. We immediately escalated the decision to senior KP leadership, invoked provisions against subcontracting in the National Agreement (Section 1.K.4), and denounced the lack of basic partnership engagement. In the next few weeks, members of Local 5 and HNHP reached out to community members concerned about the loss of services and jobs, engaged in sticker-up actions and a caravan, launched a petition drive, and won the support of Maui county politicians to their cause.


As a result, the incoming KP Hawaii senior leadership and SCAL senior leadership newly responsible for Hawaii agreed to postpone layoffs, engage in the 1.K.4 process, and explore alternatives to subcontracting. This week, KP publicly announced that it would be keeping all services and jobs at the Wailuku clinic, reversing the planned layoffs and subcontracting. The decision is a tribute to the strength of Local 5, HNHP, and the Alliance, and points to the opportunity for a better and stronger partnership in Hawaii.

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