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.”
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.
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.
Binding settlement brings labour dispute to an end.
The longstanding labour dispute between the Nanaimo Golf Club and food and beverage workers ended with an arbitrator ruling in favor of the workers on April 26th.
Contract negotiations broke down April 24, 2015 when Club management locked out two dozen Clubhouse workers, all members of UNITE HERE Local 40. After 11 months, the Club acceded to Union demands to allow workers to return to work this March and agreed to go to binding arbitration.
The Arbitrator’s binding decision awarded a 2% wage hike in 2016 and 2017 and a lump sum payment to the workers. The arbitrator’s decision vindicates the union’s position and blocked the Club’s attempt to gain concessions.
Club management locked out workers to force them to accept a number of concessions, such as lowering wages for new hires, having bargaining unit work performed by non-union employees, and restricting union members right to file charges against workers crossing a picket line.
“The arbitrator’s ruling proves what we were asking for was fair and reasonable. I hope others now see that too,” said Kayla Werezak, a returning server.
Bryce Eldred, another returning worker, is glad to be back on the job. “This is a big win. Good union jobs are hard to find in Nanaimo, and I’m glad to have one here,” said Eldred.
Now that workers have returned to work and have a new contract, UNITE HERE Local 40 encourages golfers and the general public to once again patronize the Nanaimo Golf Club greens, dining room and catering facilities.
After more than 1o months behind a picket line, the Nanaimo Gold Club has lifted the lockout of their workers!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
CONTACT: Kirsty Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-619-2434
Hotel Union and Labor Allies Issue Travel Alert for Hilton Metrotown
Some unions already planning alternate arrangements in case of labour dispute
(Burnaby, BC) Workers from the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown are joining together with leaders from the labour movement Tuesday to announce a travel alert for their hotel. British Columbia’s hospitality workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 40 is concerned about the possibility of a lockout and is preparing for the worst at the Hilton. In response, union workers are alerting hotel customers and allies to prepare for the dispute.
“As one of Hilton Metrotown’s largest customers it’s concerning that the hotel is unwilling to agree to a fair contract with their employees,” says Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU). “Our senior leadership has determined that in the event of a lockout or other labour dispute, the BCGEU will immediately cease all business with Hilton Metrotown and would have to reevaluate our future dealings with the hotel.”
Local 40 has reached major settlements in all other major upscale union hotels, the Hyatt, Westin Bayshore, Pinnacle, Pacific Gateway Hotel, Four Seasons, Rosewood Hotel Georgia and the most recent being the Coast Master agreement that settled last week. The Hilton Vancouver Metrotown is the only hotel that refuses to budge on current contract proposals.
Current proposals leave virtually no room for staff raises. Additionally, Hilton management wants to increase the workload for housekeepers and eliminate severance pay.
“This has been the toughest set of bargaining in all my years at the hotel. Management has proposed concession after concession. That’s why we are taking the difficult step of calling for this Travel Alert,” said Front Desk Supervisor Sergio Moyer, who has worked at the Hilton since its opening in 1999.
As the Hilton Metrotown is Burnaby’s only premium full-service hotel, the risk of a labour dispute is causing some unions and labour-friendly travellers to reconsider their upcoming bookings. This would divert business from Burnaby to other cities such as Vancouver and Richmond. Although the workers and the union are not asking anybody to move their business yet, other unions have already begun developing backup plans for their bookings.
Press Conference 11am – Hilton Vancouver Metrotown
Speakers: Robert Demand, President, UNITE HERE Local 40
Irene Lanzinger, President, BC Federation of Labour
Donisa Bernardo, Financial Secretary, Hospital Employees Union
Delia Labrador, Housekeeper, Hilton Vancouver Metrotown
Sergio Moyer, Front Desk Supervisor, Hilton Vancouver Metrotown
UNITE HERE represents 270,000 women and men across North America who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries. Learn more at www.uniteherelocal40.org