FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Unequal women leading fight to save their hotel jobs as industry recovers
Vancouver, BC — Workers from the luxury Pan Pacific Hotel at Vancouver Convention Centre East have voted strongly in favour of joining UNITE HERE Local 40. Nearly 75% of workers voted to form a union as the hotel attempts to shed much of its long-term staff – many of them women of colour who have served the hotel for decades. This vote sends a clear message that laid-off and fired working women in B.C.’s hotel industry are standing up to fight for their jobs in the midst of the pandemic.
The unionization effort comes after management fired groups of long-term workers without cause or advance notice. Last month, a class action lawsuit was filed against the hotel on behalf of workers terminated during the pandemic. The suit alleges the hotel misled and wrongfully fired workers, cheating them out of full severance pay. Remaining workers were asked to sign an agreement to waive their severance rights and give up their regular full-time status in exchange for a $250 bonus and health benefits. Some of them were fired anyway.
Working with Local 40, Pan Pacific workers will fight for recall protections and a first contract.
“I’m so proud of Pan Pacific workers who voted for the union and joined Local 40. We are excited to join a union of hotel workers who are determined to get through this pandemic together. This vote shows that women in the hotel industry are standing up and fighting for better protection, wages, and benefits, and most importantly — fighting to save our careers,” said Jerty Gaa, a public area attendant fighting to be recalled to her job of eleven years.
Over 60% of workers in the hotel industry are women – many of them immigrants, visible minorities and Indigenous. At the Pan Pacific, they have cleaned rooms, cooked meals, and served guests for decades but are treated as if they were disposable. The economic impact of COVID-19 on hotel workers, particularly women, is turning back the clock to an earlier era.
“This is the 21st century. We want an end to the hotel industry’s 19th century treatment of women. The women leading the fight at the Pan Pacific Vancouver refuse to be quiet while mass firings are used to strip away gains made by the very women who are the backbone of this industry,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.
The high-end hotel is owned by an affiliate of Westmont Hospitality Group. Westmont is one of the world’s largest privately held hospitality companies.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.