Vancouver, BC — A group of BC’s largest unions are pledging they will not patronize Hilton Vancouver Metrotown as long as the hotel refuses to guarantee its laid-off workers a right to return to their jobs. The BCTF, BCGEU, HEU, MoveUP, and PSAC-BC have declared they will not use the hotel or make future bookings there in response to the hotel’s mass pandemic firings of long-term workers.
Hilton Vancouver Metrotown has fired 90 long-term workers — most of whom are women and people of colour — without notice or cause. Workers recently launched the BC Unequal Women campaign to draw attention to the impact of pandemic firings on the hotel industry’s predominantly female workforce.
The five unions delivered the message to hotel management during the workers’ latest bargaining session. Unions are regular customers of this Hilton and account for a significant portion of its customer base. They typically book events far in advance and account for a steady stream of revenue for hotels looking to ramp up business when COVID-related travel restrictions are lifted.
Last month, Hilton Metrotown workers overwhelmingly voted in favour of a strike over the firings and began limited strike action. Workers are urging all customers to book elsewhere until the hotel agrees to return workers to their jobs as the economy restarts.
Teri Mooring, President, BCTF:
“The BC Teachers’ Federation and our 47,000 members stand in solidarity with UNITE HERE! Local 40 members. Consequently, we have decided to withdraw all Federation business from the Hilton Metrotown Hotel until workers, including those laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, are guaranteed recall rights and have achieved a fairly negotiated collective agreement. We have no interest in doing business with a corporation that appears to be attempting to use the pandemic to blatantly disregard the rights of unionized employees, who are primarily women and people of colour. Our hope is that our collective action sends a strong message to the Hilton Metrotown.”
Stephanie Smith, President, BCGEU:
“The BCGEU will refuse to book at the Hilton Metrotown as long as they use the pandemic as an excuse to eliminate the jobs of long-term staff, primarily women and persons of colour. On behalf of our more than 80,000 members, we stand shoulder to shoulder with hotel workers as they stand up to this attack on their livelihoods. We will direct all future bookings to hotels that commit to return workers to their jobs as tourism returns.”
Betty Valenzuela, Financial Secretary, Hospital Employees’ Union:
“These are difficult times for workers and businesses in many parts of the economy – and the impact on hotel workers has been particularly devastating. But things will get better, and we would have expected that the Hilton Metrotown would plan to return these workers to their jobs once business picks up. I’m disappointed to learn that this is not the case. We value our relationship with the Hilton Metrotown Hotel, but I want to be clear that we will withhold future bookings in the face of unjust treatment of these workers.”
Lori Mayhew, Secretary-Treasurer, MoveUP:
“This pandemic has reminded us how important it is to stick together. MoveUP is supporting the workers at the Hilton Metrotown who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If the Hilton Metrotown can’t respect their workers and guarantee their rights to return to their jobs, then we will take our business elsewhere.”
Jamey Mills, Regional Executive Vice-President of PSAC-BC:
“Our union has been a customer of the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown for many years. Our position is clear, we will not use the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, or consider future bookings at the hotel, until all workers laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic are guaranteed a right to return to their jobs once business returns.”
UNITE HERE Local 40 is a labour union representing workers in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.