Historic Hotel Georgia set to re-open

After more than a 4-year shut down, the historic Hotel Georgia is scheduled to re-open in early May and UNITE HERE! Local 40 is working hard to return long-time Union members to the hotel.

If you worked at the Hotel Georgia prior to the shut down and wish to return to the hotel–which will be operated by Rosewood Hotels and will require training to meet their very demanding level of guest service–you must first meet the following eligibility requirements and then notify the Union in writing by March 9, 2011 that you wish to return.

To be eligible for recall to the hotel you must meet 3 conditions:

(a)    You were actively employed at the Hotel Georgia through December 31, 2006;

(b)    You accepted a layoff from the hotel on January 1, 2007 and did not accept severance pay

If your answer was “Yes” to (a) & (b) and you wish to return to the new Hotel Georgia, you must notify the Union in writing by no later than March 9, 2011.

To notify the Union of your desire to be recalled to work, please provide Local 40 with your name, previous job classification, home address, email address and phone number.  You can fax this information to the Union at (604) 291-2676 or contact Jim Pearson at (604) 473-4830

Coast Discovery Inn settles contract

Local 40 members at the Coast Discovery Inn in Campbell River have a new contract that achieves UNITE HERE’s provincial hotel standard.

The new Discovery Inn contract increases funding for the pension, improves dental, vision and prescription benefits, increases wages and protects gratuities for banquet workers. Housekeepers will also see a reduction in workload.

Thank you to the BC Teachers Federation, USW, CAW, Firefighters and Courtney/Campbell River Labour Council for supporting us during the contract campaign.

Congratulations to Local 40 members at the Discovery Inn!

Westin’s “Green Choice” is Bad for the Environment, Bad for Workers

Green or Greed?

The Westin Bayshore Hotel recently instituted the “Make a Green Choice” program, encouraging guests to refuse housekeeping services by rewarding them with a $5 coupon for each day they refuse service.

Westin Bayshore says this is “green.” Westin Bayshore housekeepers say its “greed.”

Real Green or Fake Green?

“After 3 or 4 days of no service, we find mounds of dirty linens, towels, filthy bathrooms, garbage and spoiled food left behind in the rooms which require almost an hour to clean. But we have limited time. We end up using more chemicals, more water, more energy. We’re not saving anything at all for the environment.”  –Noy Paguio, Room Attendant, Westin Bayshore

Dirtier rooms? More time needed to clean? More chemicals used? What’s green about that?

“Green Choice” is Bad for the Environment

“Green Choice” is misleading. Many hotel guests who are genuinely concerned about the environment would likely go to another hotel if they knew the truth about “Green Choice.”

“Green Choice” is unverifiable. When asked by The Province about “Green Choice” in July, the Westin Bayshore was unable to provide any data about the program’s energy savings at the Bayshore (“Vancouver hotel’s ‘Green’ program takes toll on housekeeping staff,” The Province, 7/4/10).

“Green Choice” Hurts Women

“A real green program helps the environment and doesn’t hurt people. Westin had a program so guests could choose not to have linens and towels changed. This program saved more water and energy than “Green Choice” and didn’t hurt us.”    —Pamela Moroni, Room Attendant, Westin Bayshore

The more guests use the “Green Choice” coupon on a given day, the more housekeepers are cut from that day’s work schedule. For every 15 “Green Choice” cards used by guests, one room attendant is told not to report to work–even though she was already on the schedule.

Dirtier rooms left by guests who refuse housekeeping services, create heavier workloads for housekeepers.  And as housekeepers lose control of their schedules, physical and economic stress increases.

Westin Makes a Mockery of Green Initiatives

Westin Bayshore is using the “green” label to cut jobs, hurting immigrant working women who comprise the overwhelming majority of hotel housekeepers in Vancouver. At the same time, Westin is misleading guests about the benefits of “Green Choice.” Its time to stop the nonsense.

Its Time to Stop “Green Choice!”

Cara Flight Kitchen contract victory!

doc_5Hundreds of Cara Flight Kitchen workers at the Vancouver Airport have a new union contract. A big victory for Cara workers, the new contract includes a 10% wage increase over 3 years for everyone and a 13% wage increase for the lowest job classifications. Also in the contract: pension contribution increases of over 35%, significant improvements to health care including a doubling of the vision benefit, increase in the dental reimbursement from 80% to 90% and increases in paramedical benefits (acupuncture, physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage therapy). All of this comes during a time when the airline industry is in real economic distress.

“Even though the economy is difficult, we won a fair contract. I feel good this time about the committee. The process was open, anyone could say what they wanted, and we worked together from our hearts to win our contract,” said Tian Ye.

More Cara rank and file organizing committee leaders participated in this round of bargaining than ever before.

“I feel proud and stronger than ever with our contract. We are more united as members of Local 40. We started early, we developed a good organizing team, getting all the members educated and involved,” said Eddie Tang.

More than 80% of Cara workers ratified the new contract on Tuesday.

Growing movement of hotel workers and supporters protest Vancouver Hyatt

doc_9On July 22, over 600 hotel workers and supporters shut down Burrard Street to protest Hyatt Corporation’s greed and cutbacks. The Vancouver workers joined hotel workers in 15 cities across North America in a series of coordinated Hyatt protests taking place on the same day.

Starting with a loud picket line on the sidewalk in front of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver at 5pm, the crowd began to grow rapidly as workers came streaming out of the Hyatt at shift end. Chanting fiercely, hotel workers from downtown Vancouver hotels were joined by Local 40 members from around the Lower Mainland, labour unions, community groups and elected leaders. Before long, a sea of more than 600 red UNITE HERE tee-shirts were picketing the entire length of the block between Georgia and Melville.

At a signal from Local 40 marshals, the red-shirts poured onto Burrard Street and brought traffic to a halt. From the opposite side of the street, 50 workers in uniform marched hand in hand across the width of Burrard, then sat down in the street, chanting, backed up by the boisterous picket line behind them that stretched around the perimeter of Burrard. A “Shame on Hyatt” banner was unfurled, drums beat, voices were raised in anger and empowerment, while pedestrians looked on with amazement.

The Vancouver hotel workers’ first civil disobedience action was a spectacular success, delivering a loud and dramatic message to Hyatt Corporation that workers can’t be pushed around or pushed out while wealthy global corporations keep increasing their profits.

UNITE HERE Local 40 members had amazing support from labour unions and community groups at the July 22 action. Sisters and brothers from CAW, HEU, CUPE, COPE 378, BC Ferryworkers, ILWU, Building Trades, VDLC, BC Fed, PWC, Migrante, CCPA, First Call and many other organizations provided vital solidarity to the Hyatt protesters. Thank you all!!

UNITE HERE at the ITUC World Congress in Vancouver

doc_101200 trade unionists from all over the world, in Vancouver for the ITUC World Congress, got to hear Mei Mei Miao, a banquet worker at the Four Seasons Hotel talk about the hotel workers’ fight for secure jobs and better working conditions. Mei Mei received an enthusiastic standing ovation for her presentation from the 1200 ITUC delegates who were in Vancouver to discuss global issues affecting workers. Addressing the Congress on June 22, Mei Mei talked about her experience as an immigrant worker working for a global hotel company, “We come here from all over the world to make a better life for ourselves and our families. We take pride in our work and enjoy taking care of customers. Yet these companies that are making huge profits keep cutting our jobs. Many of my co-workers are doing the jobs of 2 or 3 people. We can’t afford to get sick. We can’t afford to retire. Many of us can’t afford to live in Vancouver, so we live far away. We just want to be respected and feel good about taking care of our families.”

(Mei Mei Miao, a banquet worker at the Four Seasons Hotel and Local 40 member, receives a standing ovation from 1200 ITUC delegates for her presentation on Hotel Workers Rising.)

500 rally at Hyatt Regency Vancouver

doc_11Hyatt workers across North America marched, rallied and protested today to focus attention on Hyatt Corporation’s treatment of its employees. Here in Vancouver, Hyatt workers were joined by Westin Bayshore, Renaissance, Four Seasons, Delta Vancouver Airport and Hilton Metrotown workers who all have expiring contracts this month. Local 40 members from GM Place, Host, Cara, Coast Plaza and many HIR hotels also came out to support. Friends of Local 40–labour unions, community groups and elected officials–also joined in the boisterous rally and march that began at the Hyatt and ended at the Renaissance Hotel. On the steps of the Renaissance, workers from each of the GVHEA hotels spoke out to demand the hotel companies stop squeezing workers and cutting jobs while hotel company profits are increasing. Local 40 members made it loud and clear today: we’re ready to fight!

Thanks to all our friends at HEU, USW, COPE 378, CAW, BCTF, UFCW and CUPE for bringing your colours and spirit to our rally!

International Solidarity in Canada’s Capital!

Workers protest “fake” green initiatives at Toronto hotels

doc_12A report in today’s Toronto Star describes the “fake” green initiatives some hotels are employing to cut housekeepers’ jobs. The Sheraton Toronto Centre encourages guests to refuse housekeeping services under its “Green Choice Program,” claiming it will “conserve natural resources” and is better for the environment. In return, the hotel gives the guests who refuse housekeeping services a $5 drinks voucher. Housekeepers like Brigida Ruiz (pictured, right) say they up spending more time, using more energy and more chemicals cleaning rooms that have been left without housekeeping services for several days.

See the Toronto Star report for more details on the “fake” green programs.

This Friday, hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 75 hotel workers in Toronto are holding a public briefing in city council chambers at Toronto City Hall to kick off city-wide hotel negotiations.

Vancouver hotel workers in the GVHEA contract will also begin bargaining soon. The Hyatt, Westin Bayshore, Renaissance and Four Seasons contract expires on June 30. Delta Vancouver Airport and Hilton Metrotown contracts expire at the same time.

HIR hotel workers contract victory!

doc_142000 hotel workers in BC ratified a new union contract that includes a major victory in housekeeping workload improvements as well as a 6% wage increase, improved dental and vision benefits and a more than 30% increase in employer pension contributions.

Housekeepers played a key leadership role in bargaining the HIR contract. Their workload victory includes contract language that sets a fixed quota of rooms for the first time, and check-out room drop language.

The new HIR contract was ratified by a total of 83% of members in 60 hotels across the province.

Congratulations to all!

(Committee leaders from the Sheraton Vancouver Airport, Holiday Inn Downtown and Chateau Granville (pictured), along with rank and file leaders from many other HIR hotels worked hard to achieve the new contract. More workers participated in this contract campaign than any previous HIR bargaining. The new contract covers 60 hotels across the province.)