WHEN: Wednesday, October 19
WHERE: Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, 7551 Westminster Hwy, Richmond
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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.
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.
Join 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@example.com or call 604-813-2105.