Richmond, BC — Yesterday, a delegation of striking Pacific Gateway hotel workers appeared and spoke before Richmond City Council on Monday, April 11, to urge City Councillors not to spend any public money at the hotel until the current labour dispute is resolved. Members of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition also attended in solidarity. Pacific Gateway hotel workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 40, B.C.’s hospitality workers’ union.
The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the hospitality industry throughout the province and disproportionately affected women and people of colour. In Richmond, the federal government took over Pacific Gateway as a quarantine site during the pandemic and pulled out in January 2022 citing concerns over the hotel’s treatment of workers. Workers went on strike in May 2021 after the hotel terminated 143 long-term staff during the height of Covid. The B.C. Federation of Labour has issued a boycott of the hotel.
UNITE HERE Local 40 launched the B.C. Unequal Women campaign to call attention to how women are bearing the brunt of pandemic terminations in the hospitality industry. At Pacific Gateway, of the 143 workers terminated, 90 of them were women. In May 2021, a terminated housekeeper filed a human rights complaint against the hotel on behalf of herself and 89 other fired women for wrongful firings on the basis of sex and racial discrimation.
“When Pacific Gateway Hotel workers went on strike in May 2021, the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition wrote to the Mayor and Council requesting that the City NOT patronize the hotel. We were advised by UNITE HERE Local 40 that 38% of Pacific Gateway workers live in Richmond. Agreeing to not use the hotel until the labour dispute is over would show that City Council truly cares about their residents who want to earn a living here,” said De Whalen, longtime Richmond resident and president of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition.
“I urge Richmond City Council to do the right thing and support Pacific Gateway workers, many of whom are women, in the COVID-19 recovery. At a time when there is a labour shortage in B.C., our hotel should be bringing terminated workers back to their jobs, not replacing us with potentially cheaper hires,” said Treva Martell, a terminated server from Pacific Gateway hotel and Richmond resident.
CONTACT: Stephanie Fung, email@example.com, 604-928-7356; or Michelle Travis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 778-960-9785
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.