Join Local 40 at the Women’s March!

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March with UNITE HERE Local 40 at the Vancouver’s Women’s March on Washington this Saturday January 21st.

UNITE HERE has a long history of fighting on issues that matter to women, and we are proud to participate in this march!

Local 40 members and community allies are invited to join our contingent.

We gather at 9:30 am at Thurlow and Canada Place.

UBC petition calls for Sauder centre to turf board member

VANCOUVER – University of British Columbia students delivered a petition today demanding the Sauder Centre for Social Innovation cut its ties with a board member over his company’s treatment of its workers.

Representatives of UBC’s Social Justice Centre say actions by the Vancouver-based Larco hotel chain hurt the Sauder centre’s reputation for creating social and economic good. The students say Larco CEO Amin Lalji shouldn’t be involved in the Sauder Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing.

“We feel, as students, that we have to keep UBC accountable to its promises of social responsibility,” said Social Justice Centre member Eviatar Bach, adding “we can’t let the university become a tool for boosting the reputation of donors we feel are engaged in unethical behavior.”

Representatives from the Social Justice Centre were joined by Larco hotel workers. Unite Here, the union representing the workers, says its members are fighting an uphill battle for respect and fair treatment.

In Toronto, Unite Here Local 75 members at the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel recently filed an Unfair Labour Practice against the company for interference in a union organizing drive.  Unite Here Local 40 President Robert Demand said, “Workers at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel are increasingly squeezed by higher workloads while earning significantly lower wages than workers at comparable local hotels.”

“As a housekeeper I work very hard, my job carries a high risk of injury, and many of my co-workers work in pain every day, said Sheraton housekeeper Jean Harvey.  “We deserve to be heard, but I don’t believe Mr. Lalji is listening to us, or treating us with respect.”  Harvey joined the delegation presenting the petition at UBC today.

Demand said the union appreciates the interest and support from UBC students and hopes the petition alerts the Sauder centre to the seriousness of the situation.

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CONTACTS:

UBC Social Justice Centre: Eviatar Bach, 604-727-6117, [email protected]

Unite Here Local 40:  Octavian Cadabeschi, 604-813-2105, [email protected]

 
The UBC Social Justice Centre aims to serve any and all students interested in finding progressive solutions to societal and global injustice.  UNITE HERE Local 40 is the union for hospitality workers in British Columbia.

Press Conference: Community Leaders in Vancouver & Toronto Call on Larco Hospitality to Stop Hurting Housekeepers

Canadian Cities Join Hotel Housekeepers Global Week of Action

img_0579A joint press conference was held today in Vancouver and Toronto with community leaders representing several Filipino, South Asian and faith groups and UNITE HERE Canada.  Community leaders demanded that Larco Hospitality stop mistreating hotel workers, many of them immigrant women, who report heavy workloads and experience work-related pain and who have experienced violations of basic rights in their efforts to organize.

This action was part of the Hotel Housekeepers Global Week of Action, featuring multiple coordinated actions by housekeepers in more than a dozen countries around the world.

In Vancouver, representatives from the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), KAIROS Vancouver, Longhouse Ministry, Richmond Poverty Response Committee, and Langara College Professor Indira Prahst, joined to support hotel workers from the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel who are members of UNITE HERE Local 40.

“We stand in solidarity with the workers of Sheraton and we appeal to management of the Sheraton to look at the issues and give appropriate wages and conditions for labour,” said Chelliah Premrajah, from the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy.  He added, “The large number of employees here are immigrants or are descendants of immigrants.  We want their standard of living to improve, particularly in Richmond, where housing is extremely unaffordable and transport costs are increasing, making it harder to live here.”

In Toronto, speakers included members of Migrante Canada, an international human rights organization for Filipino migrants, members of AnakBayan Toronto (AB-TO), an all-youth advocacy group organizing events around issues affecting the Filipino community in Canada, and hotel workers from the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel who recently voted to join UNITE HERE Local 75 and are currently negotiating their first contract.

Background: Larco Investments, and its affiliate, Larco Hospitality, is a major hotel owner/operator in Canada.  Many of Larco’s hotel employees are first generation immigrants who are Filipino, South Asian and Chinese.  During this week’s Hotel Housekeepers Global Week of Action, community leaders in Vancouver and Toronto will be calling on Larco to stop mistreating workers at their hotels.

In Vancouver, workers at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport hotel, owned by an affiliate of Larco Hospitality, are being squeezed by heavy workloads and lower wage and benefit standards than at comparable hotels, earning, on average $8,000 less annually.

In Toronto, workers at the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel report that Larco Hospitality interfered with their right to organize at the hotel through the use of intimidation and harassment tactics during a union drive this summer.  In response, UNITE HERE Local 75 filed charges against Larco with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.  The workers are currently negotiating their first contract.

Hotel workers, particularly housekeepers, are often immigrants, women, and people of colour, and are the invisible backbone of the hotel industry.  The work they do can be grueling and dangerous.  It entails lifting mattresses that can weigh up to 100 pounds, pushing heavy carts, and dealing with guests behind closed doors.  Heavy and repetitive workloads combined with intense time pressures can contribute to chronic pain and injuries for housekeepers.

Housekeepers affiliated with UNITE HERE in Canada and the U.S. are joining worldwide protests this week to spotlight safety concerns and poor wages faced by women who clean hotel rooms.  The Hotel Housekeepers Global Week of Action is from October 31 to November 6.

UNITE HERE Canada is the union for hospitality workers and represents thousands of hotel and food service workers throughout Canada.

 

Contacts:

Vancouver – Octavian Cadabeschi, (604) 813-2105 or [email protected]

Toronto – Marc Hollin, (647) 408-5428 or [email protected]

International – Massimo Frattini, IUF, [email protected]

Hotel Workers to Protest in Vancouver & Toronto for Respect at Larco Hospitality

WHEN:  Wednesday, October 19

WHERE:  Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, 7551 Westminster Hwy, Richmond

TIME:  5PM

Vancouver, BC — Hotel workers will hold demonstrations today in Vancouver and Toronto at several Larco-owned and operated hotels to protest the company’s treatment of workers, the majority of whom are immigrants.  The workers, represented UNITE HERE, are calling on Larco Hospitality to end years of disrespect and to raise standards at their hotels.

Larco workers in Vancouver, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, will demonstrate at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel where they earn, on average, $8,000 a year less than workers at comparable hotels.  The rally is the latest in a series of protests held by workers to protest heavy workloads and lower wage and benefit standards at the Sheraton compared to other high-end hotels.  Workers are seeking to bargain independently with the Sheraton, which is currently bargaining alongside more than 40 hotel and motel employers through a master contract agreement represented by Hospitality Industrial Relations (HIR).  Unlike the Sheraton, most of the properties represented in the master agreement are lower-end hotels and motels.

“We provide top service to our customers at the Sheraton, but our hard work is not recognized by Larco. Since the hotel became a Sheraton, our workloads have gotten heavier, but we earn less than room attendants at similar hotels.  We rush to finish more work in less time, and the work is causing us pain. Some of us take pain killers just to get through the day.  We tell the company we deserve better treatment, but they don’t listen to us,” said Jean Harvey, a room attendant at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel.

Today in Toronto, hotel workers will also protest at the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel (Skydome), to be joined by workers holding simultaneous actions at other Larco-owned hotels, the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville and the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel.  In July, workers at the Renaissance voted to join UNITE HERE Local 75.  Local 75 has filed charges with the Ontario Labour Relations Board against Larco Hospitality for repeatedly breaking provincial labour law in an attempt to interfere with workers’ right to organize.  A labour board mediation will be held at the end of November followed by hearings, if necessary.

Luz Flores, a room attendant at the Renaissance said: “When Larco management found out that we were organizing, all of us room attendants were told that, if the union came in, the company would start writing us up if they found anything wrong with the rooms that we clean each day and that after three mistakes, we could be terminated. Many of us have worked here for more than a decade and we need these jobs to support our families. It wasn’t right to threaten us that way. Even though most of us are immigrant workers, we still have rights and Larco needs to respect those.”

Larco Hospitality is part of the Larco Group of Companies and is owned by the prominent Lalji family.  The parent company is a major real estate owner and developer with significant hotel holdings in Canada.  Last year, the owners of Larco were ranked #28 on Canadian Business’ annual ranking of Richest 100 Canadians.

UNITE HERE Local 40 and UNITE HERE Local 75 represent thousands of hospitality workers throughout British Columbia and in the Greater Toronto Area, respectively.

For more information about today’s demonstrations, please contact Michelle Travis at [email protected]

Inflight Catering Workers Ratify New 3-Year Agreement

Gate Gourmet Union Bargaining Committee

Gate Gourmet Union Bargaining Committee

Members of UNITE HERE Local 40 working for inflight caterer Gate Gourmet ratified their new three-year contract this week.  The new agreement achieves significant wage increases, restores overtime on the 6th and 7th days of work, provides new protection for sick and injured workers, and covers increases in medical costs.

The new agreement narrowly averted a strike by inflight catering workers at Vancouver International Airport.  Local 40, which represents 400 food preparation workers and drivers at Gate Gourmet, had issued a 72-hour strike notice on August 16.

“After weeks of hard bargaining, we’ve got a deal that addresses the rising cost of living in Vancouver as well as other respect issues in the workplace.  Going forward, we are happy to settle a contract that will make sure workers can securely take part in the company’s growing prosperity,” said Phillip Lin, a member of the Union bargaining committee and a high lift driver at Gate Gourmet.

UNITE HERE Local 40 Issues 72-Hour Strike Notice for 400 Gate Gourmet Workers

UNITE HERE Local 40 has filed a 72-hour strike notice with the Labour Relations Board on behalf of 400 inflight catering workers at Gate Gourmet.  Gate Gourmet provides food and beverages to major airlines like Air Canada, United Airlines, Air China and others.

The Union is scheduled to bargain with the company tomorrow, Friday, August 19th.  Check back for more details on a possible strike at YVR.

 

Gate Gourmet workers hold press conference, issue travel alert

 

Gate Gourmet member delivers statement

Gate Gourmet member delivers statement

On August 11th, UNITE HERE Local 40 airline catering members who work for Gate Gourmet held a press conference to issue a travel alert and discuss a possible strike at Vancouver International Airport.  Gate Gourmet is a global inflight caterer that services Air Canada, British Airways, Air China, and other major airlines.

Citing the company’s failed promise to pay workers properly after a three-year wage freeze, the stripping away of overtime on the 6th and 7th day of work, and poor treatment of injured workers returning to work, Gate Gourmet workers addressed the media and described what changes they want to see in their workplace.  They were joined by Jenny Kwan, MP for Vancouver East, and Aaron Ekman, Secretary-Treasurer, BC Federation of Labour, who spoke in support of the workers.

“I stay overtime so the airlines can get their food on time.  Sometimes we go home at 2am to make sure food is delivered. But we are so understaffed, we are doing the jobs of two people.   On top of that, the company manages to take away our overtime on the 6th and 7th day of work.  Some of us end up working 8 to 10 days in a row without overtime,” said bargaining committee member, Leonisa Paraton, Team Leader-Cold Section, and 20-year employee.

Two other veteran employees described poor treatment of those who return to work after experiencing illness or injury.  Months after returning to work, and in one case a year later, the company told workers that their seniority would be reduced retroactively, making them more vulnerable to layoffs and adversely impacting their shift assignments.

Gate Gourmet is benefiting from a turnaround in the airline industry and has won lucrative new business recently.  In Vancouver, the tourism industry is booming.  Passenger numbers for Vancouver International Airport (YVR) are at an all-time high with a record 20.3 million visitors in 2015 and expected to grow in 2016. Yet, the company has failed to adequately recognize the economic sacrifices made by their 400 employees, mostly immigrants from China and other parts of the globe, who agreed to concessions in their last contract three years ago.

On August 3rd, workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize job actions, up to and including a strike, if no progress is made at the table.  Both sides remain far apart and have entered into mediation.  The workers’ contract expired on July 31, 2016.

March with Local 40 at Pride 2016!

Love Has No borders posterJoin UNITE HERE Local 40 at the Vancouver Pride Parade this year!

March with the union, defend LGBTQ rights, and support hotel workers as part of our campaign to end job discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

This year our union’s theme is “Love Has No Borders!”

The Pride parade takes place Sunday, July 31st at Noon.

Our Local will gather at 11:00am on the west side of Thurlow Street, between Robson and Haro.

For more info contact: [email protected] or call 604-813-2105.

 

Hotel workers seek gains in HIR negotiations as BC’s hotel industry booms

Just in case...

Local 40 committee members address management during bargaining

Helen - Housekeeping - Holiday Inn North Vancouver

Helen Baisa- Housekeeper – Holiday Inn North Van

In the midst of a boom for Metro Vancouver’s tourism industry, UNITE HERE Local 40 has begun negotiations with the 48 hospitality employers that are represented by  Hospitality Industrial Relations (HIR).

Over seventy union members attended the first bargaining session at the Holiday Inn Downtown on June 8th. Members representing properties across the Greater Vancouver Area, Victoria, Harrison, and other parts of B.C addressed management during the meeting. They highlighted the need for better wages, benefits, and retirement packages.

Metro Vancouver’s tourism industry surpassed nine million visitors for the first time ever in 2015, and is on track to surpass that this year.  According to industry analysts, hotel profits were up 28% in 2015 and are forecast to grow 13% in 2016.  Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to skyrocket for workers. Local 40 members look forward to sharing in the industry’s success and hope to see tangible increases to their wages and benefits in this upcoming contract.

During the bargaining session, Helen Baisa, room attendant at the Holiday Inn North Vancouver, spoke about how the rising cost of living is making life increasingly difficult for hotel workers. “Rent, food, all utilities are higher, and we cannot afford to pay them all,” she said, “so we are asking for an increase to our wages.”

Alice Wong, a room attendant from the Empire Landmark Hotel, echoed those sentiments and focused on the need for an improved pension plan.  “I have worked at the Empire Landmark Hotel for 41 years.  Hopefully, I can be comfortable when I retire.”

 

 

 

 

Newly ratified contract for Hilton Metrotown Workers

New agreement maintains top hotel standard in Vancouver.

Burnaby, BC – UNITE HERE Local 40 members at Hilton Metrotown ratified their new union contract with a 96% YES vote!  The agreement increases economics by $1.45 over the next two years, preserves hard-fought Room Attendant workload standards, and enhances job security language.

Hilton Bargaining Committe, April 27, 2016

Hilton Bargaining Committee, April 27, 2016

Workers faced a tough round of bargaining, but with the support of union customers and elected officials, along with actions in the streets and in the workplace, Hilton workers sent a strong message to the company that we will stand up for decent standards.

“We are so happy that we were able to keep our workload the same.  Housekeeping is very hard work, and we fought very hard to keep our standard.  Thank you to all of the Unions and politicians that supported us in this struggle,” said Delia Labrador, a Room Attendant who has worked at the Hilton for 16 years.

Among the many union customers who showed their support for Hilton workers were BCGEU, HEU, PSAC, CUPE, MoveUP, Steelworkers and Telecommunications Workers, HSA, and the BC Federation of Labour.

The Hilton bargaining committee worked with hotel management to negotiate an agreement that acknowledged difficult economic conditions at the hotel, while avoiding concessions.  The Hilton withdrew its demands to increase workload for Room Attendants and to eliminate severance pay.

The new contract provides enhanced job security language to protect workers’ jobs, seniority, wages and benefits in the event of a sale, subcontracting or leasing in the workplace.

“I’m so glad we were able to win new job security protections.  It gives us the peace of mind we need to provide quality service to the guests,” said long-term employee, Sergio Moyer, Front Desk Supervisor.

The new contract will expire in 2018.  The Hilton workers will join other Metro Vancouver hotel workers from the Hyatt Vancouver, Westin Bayshore, Pinnacle Harbourfront, Four Seasons, Hotel Georgia and Pacific Gateway, who will all bargain in 2018.