UNITE HERE urges Federal Ministers to protect Canadians data in hotels, nursing homes with ties to the People’s Republic of China

China’s latest threats cause concern over security, privacy risks

For Immediate Release

Vancouver, May 9, 2019 – UNITE HERE, the union for hospitality workers, is formally urging Ottawa to assess the security and privacy risks stemming from the Chinese government’s control of a Canadian nursing home chain and its ties to Canada’s largest hotel company.

Anbang, owner of nursing home chain Retirement Concepts, is controlled by the Chinese government and may have been behind the acquisition of InnVest Hotels.  In a letter* to Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains and Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale, UNITE HERE urges the government to undertake a new assessment of the risks to Canadians in these sectors given escalating diplomatic tensions with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

UNITE HERE is asking Ottawa to examine Anbang and Bluesky and determine who has access to sensitive personal data managed on their behalf and to identify what protocols are in place to secure the personal, financial, medical and other sensitive information belonging to seniors, employees and hotel customers across Canada.

The PRC’s ties to the senior care and hospitality sectors may provide access to large troves of personally identifiable data on Canadians.  It was recently reported that China’s Ministry of State Security was behind the massive cyber attack against the Marriott hotel chain which compromised the personal information of nearly 500 million Starwood guests over a four-year period.

“China’s latest retaliatory actions against Canada and its history of cyber attacks is alarming.  We think an examination into whether the appropriate due diligence has been undertaken and an assessment of the potential risks to Canadians needs to be urgently addressed by the federal government,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE’s British Columbia Local. 

An affiliate of Vancouver-based Pacific Reach Properties sold Retirement Concepts to Anbang in 2017.  Retirement Concepts is British Columbia’s largest senior care chain with two facilities in Alberta and one in Quebec.  Anbang was seized by Chinese authorities soon after and brought under state control after its CEO was sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud and embezzlement.  The Chinese government holds a 98 per-cent stake in Anbang.

Last year, Ottawa blocked the sale of construction giant Aecon to CCCI over national security concerns.  The Chinese government holds a 64 per-cent stake in CCCI’s parent company.

Press reports have speculated that Anbang could be behind Bluesky’s acquisition of InnVest, Canada’s largest hotel owner. The ownership of Bluesky remains murky, but the CEO of its subsidiary, InnVest, is a former Anbang executive.  Bluesky owns the Hyatt Vancouver, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, the Ottawa Marriott and nearly 80 other hotels in major cities across Canada.

Last month, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliament (NSICOP) warned in a report that China is a threat due to its efforts to engage in espionage and foreign influence activities in Canada.

“How is Ottawa, or even the companies managing nursing homes and hotels with ties to the Chinese government, prepared to protect thousands of seniors, employees and the travelling public from the PRC’s intelligence gathering efforts?” said Chan.

UNITE HERE represents over 270,000 hospitality workers throughout Canada and the United States, including some who work in hotels owned by Pacific Reach Properties, which continues to operate Retirement Concepts, and Bluesky Hotels & Resorts.

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Contact:

Michelle Travis, [email protected], (778) 960-9785

*A copy of UNITE HERE’s letter to Minister Bains and Minister Goodale is available upon request.

 

News Release: Contract flip at YVR Airport puts 90 food service workers’ jobs at risk

VANCOUVER – Approximately 90 contracted airport food service workers could lose their jobs due to Vancouver Airport Authority’s recent decision to switch food service operators. The workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, will have to reapply for the jobs or face being replaced by non-union workers earning minimum wage to perform the same work. The Union is urging the provincial government to extend successorship protections to contracted food service workers who are vulnerable when contracts change hands.

The workers are employed by HMSHost, the global airport operator that operates several restaurants and quick serve outlets in YVR Airport’s domestic and international terminals. On Friday, Vancouver Airport Authority announced the award of a new food and beverage contract to a competing food service operator which will lead to 90 workers at White Spot, Burger King and Café Brioche being replaced. Most of the affected workers are women, many of whom immigrated to Canada, and have worked at the airport for over a decade.

“We have no job security at YVR. I have two children, so it’s scary not knowing what comes next,” said Denise Yuile, a long-term server at White Spot in the domestic terminal.

UNITE HERE Local 40 has repeatedly called on Vancouver Airport Authority to retain workers affected by contract-flipping. Vancouver Airport Authority has so far refused to address the issue. When contracts are retendered, workers are told to reapply for their jobs if they want to continue working at the airport, which means they lose any wage and benefit gains earned during their years of service. Local 40 estimates that hundreds of airport concession workers have lost their jobs at YVR as a result.

“This is a prime example of why the province needs to protect contracted food service workers when institutions flip contracts and replace experienced workers with those who are paid minimum wage. YVR’s revolving door of contractors leads to precarious, unstable work and prevents low-wage airport workers from improving their work conditions. YVR touts their role as a sustainable airport but has a long history of treating contracted food service workers, many of them women of colour, as if they’re disposable,” said Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE Local 40.

UNITE HERE Local 40 is urging the province to extend successorship protections to contracted food service workers, while also calling on the Vancouver Airport Authority to ensure the incoming contractor hires current workers, recognizes their years of service, and retains their wages and benefits.

Federal and provincial levels of government have acted recently to address contract-flipping in other sectors. In December, the federal government passed legislation that will protect some workers in federally-regulated sectors from contract-flipping, such as security guards and maintenance staff at airports. At the provincial level, the B.C. government recently repealed laws that ends the practice of contract-flipping in the health care sector.

Join us in sending a strong message to the B.C. government that contracted food service workers deserve respect and protection from contract-flipping. Click here to sign our petition.

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Contact: Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

*This has been updated from the original version.

Local 40 Supports Sheila Malcolmson in the Nanaimo By-Election!

Vote Sheila!

Sheila Malcolmson (on the left) supporting Coast Bastion hotel workers on strike in December 2018.

Every vote counts! Cast your vote at the locations below. Bring your Voting Card with you, or 2 pieces of ID including one with your address.

For more information about voting please visit www.Elections.BC.ca.

Voting Dates & Places

 

Tues Jan 29th, 8am to 5pm

Elections Office (#201 – 65 Front Street)

 

Wed Jan 30th, 8am to 8pm

Elections Office (#201 – 65 Front Street)

Fairview Community School

Uplands Park Elementary School

Alliance Church

Departure Bay Baptist Church

Beban Park Social Centre

Bowen Park Auditorium

Departure Bay Activity Centre

Hammond Bay Elementary School

NAN District Electoral Office

Nanaimo Christian School

Nanaimo Yacht Club

Protection Island Fire Hall

Wellington Hall

Notice: 2019 General Membership Meetings & Union Dues

2019 General Membership Meetings 

*Times & locations to be announced

January 30th

April 24th

July 31st

October 30th

 

Union Dues 

Pursuant to Article 17, section 1(a) of the UNITE HERE Constitution there is a mandated $1.00 increase to dues for those who work 79 hours or less a month.

The minimum dues will increase from $31.65 to $32.65.

Dues will remain the same for members who work over 80 hours a month at 2 x hourly rate + $16.00.

Press Release: Prince George Coast workers protest lockout threat

Prince George – Today, Coast Hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, and their labour allies held a demonstration at the Coast Inn of the North against the company’s lockout threat. On Tuesday, Coast Hotels issued a 72-hour lockout notice at Coast Inn of the North, Coast Bastion in Nanaimo, and Coast Victoria Harbourside. The move could affect more than 250 workers and their families in three cities as they head into the holiday season.

This escalating labour dispute comes as BC’s hotel industry has enjoyed record revenues in recent years. For months, Coast Hotels has failed to address workers’ demands for livable wage increases, protection from high workloads, an increased pension contribution, and an end to clawbacks of worker’s tips.

“I’ve worked at for Coast for 27 years. I have hip problems and hip surgery coming up. Our workload is so heavy that I take pain killers first thing in the morning just to work. I’m outraged that the company is threatening to lock us out right before Christmas. With what we’re paid, we live almost paycheck to paycheck. A lockout hurts my ability to pay my bills and my mortgage,” said Susan Bishop, a housekeeper at Coast Inn of the North.

Independent of the lockout notice, Laird Cronk, the new president of the BCFED, called for mediation between UNITE HERE Local 40 and Coast Hotels after workers at Nanaimo’s Coast Bastion held a one-day strike on Saturday. The union and the company are currently in mediation this Wednesday and Thursday. The Union has set a deadline of midnight on December 13 to reach a settlement and has called on the labour movement to pull business from the hotels if no deal is reached.

“The labour movement has loyally supported the Coast Inn of the North and we are outraged by the company’s lockout notice. Our support will be a thing of the past if the company continues with this aggressively anti-union action that hurts workers,” said Natalie Fletcher, President of the North Central Labour Council of BC. She continued, “Prince George unions are ready to pull their business from the Coast hotel if a settlement is not reached by midnight on Thursday. If the company locks workers out over the holidays, some of that business may never come back.”

For more information, please contact: Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105  or [email protected]

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Breaking: Coast Bastion Hotel Workers on Strike!

WHAT:  UNITE HERE Local 40 hotel members at Coast Bastion Hotel are on a one-day strike.

WHEN:  Saturday, December 8, 2018; 6:30AM

WHERE: Coast Bastion Hotel, 11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC

 WHO:   Approximately 100 hotel housekeepers, housemen, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, food & beverage servers, front desk agents, bellman, maintenance workers and others.

 WHY: As of 6:30AM, workers at the Coast Bastion Hotel walked off the job today for a one-day strike.  The hotel’s housekeepers, cooks, food and beverage servers, front desk agents, bellman and others – all members of UNITE HERE! Local 40 – are taking strike action after months of bargaining in which Coast Hotels has failed to address demands for decent wage increases, has ignored room attendants crippling workloads, proposed just pennies in pension improvements, and wants to claw back workers’ tips.

Coast Bastion has been rated the brand’s #1 hotel. Nanaimo’s tourism industry has welcomed record numbers of visitors in recent years, in line with cities across British Columbia. While Coast Hotels is reaping the benefits of a tourism boom, the cost of living in Nanaimo is steadily increasing, yet Coast Bastion workers are falling behind.

“The Coast Bastion announced record revenues for several years in a row, yet all of us struggle to get by in Nanaimo. We work hard to make the Coast Bastion the brand’s hotel of the year, and we have walked off the job today to fight for wages and health benefits that we can actually live on,” says Garry Constable, a server at the Coast Bastion.

Coast Bastion is one of three Coast hotels bargaining together under a master agreement. Hotel workers at Coast Victoria Harbourside and Coast Inn of the North have raised similar issues across the chain.

“Too little progress has been made at the negotiating table for months, and we hope this one day strike sends a message to the company to get serious and listen to their staff, stop demanding servers share their tips with management, and start agreeing to safer and more sustainable workload for housekeepers,” say Local 40’s executive director, Robert Demand.

The next round of bargaining is scheduled for December 12-13.

For more information, please contact Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105 or [email protected] 

Nanaimo’s Coast Bastion Hotel Workers Ready to Strike

November 23, 2018
Sharan Pawa
604-473-4830
[email protected]

Nanaimo Hotel Workers Pose Strike as Holiday Season Looms

Workers Ready to Walk Off from Coast Bastion Hotel

 

Nanaimo – Coast Bastion Hotel workers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of authorizing a strike action. Frustrated with the lack of progress made in contract negotiations with hotel management, the workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, are prepared to take action for better hotel jobs.

 

B.C.’s tourism industry is booming, creating record profits for hotels. Yet hotel workers across our province are continually struggling to make ends meet, as well as secure medical benefits and liveable pensions. Coast Bastion Hotel workers have been in over a hundred hours of bargaining, yet management has failed to address serious workplace issues.

 

Coast Bastion workers are seeking a wage increase that reflects the increased cost of living in Nanaimo and a fair pension plan for staff that would keep retired workers out of poverty. Workers are also calling on the company to address heavy housekeeping workloads which increases the risk of injuries for room attendants on a daily basis as well as being detrimental to their long-term health.

 

While Coast Hotel workers are poised to strike in Nanaimo, workers at other Coast hotels in Victoria, Prince George and Kelowna continue to bargain.

 

After nine long days in three different cities across B.C., we’ve tried to negotiate with the company. Coast workers are fed up with the little progress made on wages and pension, and their absolutely disrespectful attitude addressing workload and language changes. The workers’ vote in favor of a strike demonstrates how we stand together in demanding a fair contract,” said Garry Constable, a Shop Steward at Coast Bastion Hotel.

 

Negotiations are scheduled to resume in Nanaimo on November 29.

 

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UNBC Cafeteria Workers Ratify New Contract

New agreement averts strike on campus

Union bargaining committee members

UNBC’s cafeteria workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 40 have unanimously ratified a new agreement with the university’s food provider, Compass Group.  Narrowly averting a strike, the new agreement ends the prolonged labour dispute at the university and addresses workers’ longstanding concerns over pay and job security.

Workers at UNBC’s Agora Dining Hall and Tim Hortons will receive raises of $2/hour at minimum, additional bonus pay, while entry-level wages for new workers will increase substantially to better meet the cost of living in Prince George.  The agreement establishes a new pension benefit for workers, significantly improves medical benefits and enshrines stronger anti-harassment and anti-discrimination standards to protect the rights of members engaged in union activity.  Cafeteria workers also achieved a path to job security with the new agreement.

“We are very pleased that these issues could be resolved.  We feel this agreement addresses our concerns and allows us to continue providing service to the students who rely on us,” said Jeannie Gilbert, a cook at UNBC’s Agora Dining Hall.

The workers have engaged in numerous job actions since the contract expired in April 2017.  After a year of little progress in bargaining, the workers issued a 72-hour strike notice earlier this month.  Workers have received an outpouring of support from faculty, students, labour and community allies who petitioned the university and participated in demonstrations and other actions.

“We want to acknowledge the support we received from the university community, including students, staff and faculty.  Without their support, we may not have been able to avoid a strike,” said Melody Danchuk, a long-term cafeteria worker and member of the union bargaining committee.

 

For more information, please contact: Octavian Cadabeschi, (604) 813-2105, [email protected]

YVR: First Class Airport, Second Class Jobs

Workers behind the concession counters at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) help make this North America’s #1 airport.  Workers take pride in welcoming the world to Vancouver while serving travelers a cup of coffee or a warm meal on the way to their destination.

While workers love working at YVR, too many of them are earning at, or slightly above, minimum wage, with few benefits.  The work is precarious.  Turnover is high and staffing is a challenge.  Many workers at YVR work two, sometimes three, jobs to make ends meet.  Worse, years of contract flipping has created a low-road for airport concession workers.  When concession leases expire, workers stand to lose higher wages and benefits they earned during their years of service. Workers are told to reapply for work and to start over at minimum wage.

We believe YVR could become a truly sustainable community partner by adopting policies that have a positive impact on its contracted workforce.  Major competing airports across the western seaboard, like SEA-TAC, SFO, LAX among others, are paying living wages to airport concession workers and have worker retention and labour peace policies that ensure a smooth transition when operators change.

We want YVR to adopt responsible contracting policies and become #1 when it comes to ensuring airport concession workers have sustainable, decent jobs. 

If you agree, visit us on Facebook and “Like” our page!   Or, if you are on Twitter, tweet a message to YVR:  “Concession workers @yvrairport need first class jobs!”

Prince George Workers Hold Demonstration at Ramada

(Prince George, BC) On Thursday, April 19, hotel and food service workers from across the city converged outside the Ramada Prince George Hotel for a demonstration organized by members of UNITE HERE! Local 40. The workers were joined by several Prince George unions, campus groups, and community allies.

Ramada workers, who have been in bargaining for almost a year, protested working conditions at the hotel.  They currently earn less than other unionized hotel workers in Prince George. Workers want management to address serious contract violations, a lack of adequate staffing and supplies during busy periods at the hotel, and to resolve basic issues that staff bring forward.

Unite Here Local 40 represents hundreds of workers across Prince George. In addition to the Ramada, Local 40 members are fighting for better working conditions at UNBC and Travelodge and will soon begin bargaining at Coast Inn of the North.  As the cost of living continues to increase, hotel and food service workers across Prince George are joining together to build a higher standard of living in their city, one workplace at a time.

“We all face a lot of the same problems where we work, regardless of that being UNBC or the Ramada. All of us need wages that we can live on, respect in the workplace, adequate staffing levels and safe working conditions. This is why we are working together to build a movement of workers standing up for one another. This action is only the beginning of that,” said Stacey Moen, a cook at the Ramada.

Members of several area Prince George unions and local community groups joined today’s demonstration.

“Hotel and hospitality workers add real economic value to our community by providing vital services. They deserve our full support in their struggle for decent wages and benefits, and better working conditions,” said Paul Ewert from Stand Up for the North Committee.

For more information, please contact: Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105 or [email protected]