1200 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.)
Hyatt 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!
A 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.
2000 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.)