VANCOUVER – Approximately 90 contracted airport food service workers could lose their jobs due to Vancouver Airport Authority’s recent decision to switch food service operators. The workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, will have to reapply for the jobs or face being replaced by non-union workers earning minimum wage to perform the same work. The Union is urging the provincial government to extend successorship protections to contracted food service workers who are vulnerable when contracts change hands.
The workers are employed by HMSHost, the global airport operator that operates several restaurants and quick serve outlets in YVR Airport’s domestic and international terminals. On Friday, Vancouver Airport Authority announced the award of a new food and beverage contract to a competing food service operator which will lead to 90 workers at White Spot, Burger King and Café Brioche being replaced. Most of the affected workers are women, many of whom immigrated to Canada, and have worked at the airport for over a decade.
“We have no job security at YVR. I have two children, so it’s scary not knowing what comes next,” said Denise Yuile, a long-term server at White Spot in the domestic terminal.
UNITE HERE Local 40 has repeatedly called on Vancouver Airport Authority to retain workers affected by contract-flipping. Vancouver Airport Authority has so far refused to address the issue. When contracts are retendered, workers are told to reapply for their jobs if they want to continue working at the airport, which means they lose any wage and benefit gains earned during their years of service. Local 40 estimates that hundreds of airport concession workers have lost their jobs at YVR as a result.
“This is a prime example of why the province needs to protect contracted food service workers when institutions flip contracts and replace experienced workers with those who are paid minimum wage. YVR’s revolving door of contractors leads to precarious, unstable work and prevents low-wage airport workers from improving their work conditions. YVR touts their role as a sustainable airport but has a long history of treating contracted food service workers, many of them women of colour, as if they’re disposable,” said Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE Local 40.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is urging the province to extend successorship protections to contracted food service workers, while also calling on the Vancouver Airport Authority to ensure the incoming contractor hires current workers, recognizes their years of service, and retains their wages and benefits.
Federal and provincial levels of government have acted recently to address contract-flipping in other sectors. In December, the federal government passed legislation that will protect some workers in federally-regulated sectors from contract-flipping, such as security guards and maintenance staff at airports. At the provincial level, the B.C. government recently repealed laws that ends the practice of contract-flipping in the health care sector.
Contact: Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]
*This has been updated from the original version.