On 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!!