Feds Investigate Molokai Ranch

Union files charges of unfair labor practices.

By Molokai Dispatch Staff

Molokai Properties Limited, doing business as Molokai Ranch, is under investigation by the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for engaging in alleged unfair labor practices.

According to public documents supplied to the Dispatch last week from NLRB’s Honolulu office, the charges of unfair labor practices were filed against the Ranch on July 7, 2008 by Local 142 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The Union represents most of the former Ranch employees.

A document filed by the Union lists Peter Nicholas and Roy Sugiyama as representatives for the Ranch in the matter. Sugiyama is no longer employed by the Ranch. Nicholas is President and Executive Director of Molokai Ranch. He is also a Vice President of GuocoLeisure and a member of that company’s five-member senior management team.

According to the public document’s received from NLRB’s Honolulu office, the ILWU alleges that during the last six months the Ranch has refused to bargain collectively with ILWU and has failed to engage in good faith bargaining on the effect of the Ranch’s shutdown of its operations.

The Union also alleges that the Ranch has “interfered with, restrained and coerced its employees” in the exercise of their guaranteed rights.

ILWU seeks to a cease and desist order prohibiting the Ranch from refusing to engage in effects bargaining and from interfering with its employees in the exercise of their rights.

The NLRB has not rendered a decision on the Union charges.

The ILWU is being represented by Rebecca Covert, a partner with the Honolulu law firm Takahashi, Vasconcellos and Covert, according to the document.

The Ranch is currently embroiled in another legal matter trying to defend itself on a lawsuit recently filed by the County of Maui. That lawsuit seeks to prevent the Ranch from walking away from providing waste water and water utility services to approximately 1,200 Molokai customers.

The County is being represented by former Hawaii state attorney general Margery Bronster, who is a partner with the Honolulu firm of Bonster and Hoshibata .

Molokai Ranch is 100% owned by GuocoLeisure Limited, a billion dollar investment company headquartered in Singapore Malaysia. The company recently decided to close down its Molokai Ranch operations and terminate all its employees despite reports to GuocoLeisure shareholders that Ranch operations “continue to remain cash positive.”

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