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 protected] or call 604-813-2105.
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.