Hawaii union official, restaurant CEO weigh-in on labor protests

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Fast food workers in 50 cities recently staged protests demanding that their wages be increased. At present, there is no union representing fast food workers. One union official believes it may be time.

“People work hard, they should be paid enough,you know, to make a decent living and raise a family and that’s just not true in fast foods, but it’s also true in many other places,” Local 5 financial secretary-treasurer Eric Gill said.

Eddie Flores, the local fast food mogul who owns L&L Drive-Inn, says he understands the unhappiness of fast food workers. But, he adds, the answer may be offering them a way up the ladder.

“You have to reward them, make them feel like they’re part of the organization. Again, I know the movement going on that says we have to pay them a minimum of $15 as a minimum wage for any worker,” L&L President and CEO Flores said.

There is no organized union for fast food workers. Gill says it would be difficult to organize such a union because the workers may not stay where they are very long. But he adds, the community has an investment in making certain the workers receive a living wage.

“But for us as a community, we have to be able to ensure that the enterprises — the businesses, the developers, the banks — that do business here, they’re global people — we have to ensure that they do right by our community and unions are the tool for that,” Gill said.

Flores believes employees must feel an involvement with the company.

“If they feel they have the chance of owning the business, they will work much harder. And they have to understand, too, employees got to understand, if we don’t make money, we’re not going to be around. and you’re not going to be around, too,” Flores said.

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