UBC petition calls for Sauder centre to turf board member

VANCOUVER – University of British Columbia students delivered a petition today demanding the Sauder Centre for Social Innovation cut its ties with a board member over his company’s treatment of its workers.

Representatives of UBC’s Social Justice Centre say actions by the Vancouver-based Larco hotel chain hurt the Sauder centre’s reputation for creating social and economic good. The students say Larco CEO Amin Lalji shouldn’t be involved in the Sauder Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing.

“We feel, as students, that we have to keep UBC accountable to its promises of social responsibility,” said Social Justice Centre member Eviatar Bach, adding “we can’t let the university become a tool for boosting the reputation of donors we feel are engaged in unethical behavior.”

Representatives from the Social Justice Centre were joined by Larco hotel workers. Unite Here, the union representing the workers, says its members are fighting an uphill battle for respect and fair treatment.

In Toronto, Unite Here Local 75 members at the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel recently filed an Unfair Labour Practice against the company for interference in a union organizing drive.  Unite Here Local 40 President Robert Demand said, “Workers at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel are increasingly squeezed by higher workloads while earning significantly lower wages than workers at comparable local hotels.”

“As a housekeeper I work very hard, my job carries a high risk of injury, and many of my co-workers work in pain every day, said Sheraton housekeeper Jean Harvey.  “We deserve to be heard, but I don’t believe Mr. Lalji is listening to us, or treating us with respect.”  Harvey joined the delegation presenting the petition at UBC today.

Demand said the union appreciates the interest and support from UBC students and hopes the petition alerts the Sauder centre to the seriousness of the situation.



UBC Social Justice Centre: Eviatar Bach, 604-727-6117, eviatarbach@gmail.com

Unite Here Local 40:  Octavian Cadabeschi, 604-813-2105, ocadabeschi@unitehere.org

The UBC Social Justice Centre aims to serve any and all students interested in finding progressive solutions to societal and global injustice.  UNITE HERE Local 40 is the union for hospitality workers in British Columbia.