Press Release: Prince George Coast workers protest lockout threat

Prince George – Today, Coast Hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, and their labour allies held a demonstration at the Coast Inn of the North against the company’s lockout threat. On Tuesday, Coast Hotels issued a 72-hour lockout notice at Coast Inn of the North, Coast Bastion in Nanaimo, and Coast Victoria Harbourside. The move could affect more than 250 workers and their families in three cities as they head into the holiday season.

This escalating labour dispute comes as BC’s hotel industry has enjoyed record revenues in recent years. For months, Coast Hotels has failed to address workers’ demands for livable wage increases, protection from high workloads, an increased pension contribution, and an end to clawbacks of worker’s tips.

“I’ve worked at for Coast for 27 years. I have hip problems and hip surgery coming up. Our workload is so heavy that I take pain killers first thing in the morning just to work. I’m outraged that the company is threatening to lock us out right before Christmas. With what we’re paid, we live almost paycheck to paycheck. A lockout hurts my ability to pay my bills and my mortgage,” said Susan Bishop, a housekeeper at Coast Inn of the North.

Independent of the lockout notice, Laird Cronk, the new president of the BCFED, called for mediation between UNITE HERE Local 40 and Coast Hotels after workers at Nanaimo’s Coast Bastion held a one-day strike on Saturday. The union and the company are currently in mediation this Wednesday and Thursday. The Union has set a deadline of midnight on December 13 to reach a settlement and has called on the labour movement to pull business from the hotels if no deal is reached.

“The labour movement has loyally supported the Coast Inn of the North and we are outraged by the company’s lockout notice. Our support will be a thing of the past if the company continues with this aggressively anti-union action that hurts workers,” said Natalie Fletcher, President of the North Central Labour Council of BC. She continued, “Prince George unions are ready to pull their business from the Coast hotel if a settlement is not reached by midnight on Thursday. If the company locks workers out over the holidays, some of that business may never come back.”

For more information, please contact: Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105  or [email protected]

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Breaking: Coast Bastion Hotel Workers on Strike!

WHAT:  UNITE HERE Local 40 hotel members at Coast Bastion Hotel are on a one-day strike.

WHEN:  Saturday, December 8, 2018; 6:30AM

WHERE: Coast Bastion Hotel, 11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC

 WHO:   Approximately 100 hotel housekeepers, housemen, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, food & beverage servers, front desk agents, bellman, maintenance workers and others.

 WHY: As of 6:30AM, workers at the Coast Bastion Hotel walked off the job today for a one-day strike.  The hotel’s housekeepers, cooks, food and beverage servers, front desk agents, bellman and others – all members of UNITE HERE! Local 40 – are taking strike action after months of bargaining in which Coast Hotels has failed to address demands for decent wage increases, has ignored room attendants crippling workloads, proposed just pennies in pension improvements, and wants to claw back workers’ tips.

Coast Bastion has been rated the brand’s #1 hotel. Nanaimo’s tourism industry has welcomed record numbers of visitors in recent years, in line with cities across British Columbia. While Coast Hotels is reaping the benefits of a tourism boom, the cost of living in Nanaimo is steadily increasing, yet Coast Bastion workers are falling behind.

“The Coast Bastion announced record revenues for several years in a row, yet all of us struggle to get by in Nanaimo. We work hard to make the Coast Bastion the brand’s hotel of the year, and we have walked off the job today to fight for wages and health benefits that we can actually live on,” says Garry Constable, a server at the Coast Bastion.

Coast Bastion is one of three Coast hotels bargaining together under a master agreement. Hotel workers at Coast Victoria Harbourside and Coast Inn of the North have raised similar issues across the chain.

“Too little progress has been made at the negotiating table for months, and we hope this one day strike sends a message to the company to get serious and listen to their staff, stop demanding servers share their tips with management, and start agreeing to safer and more sustainable workload for housekeepers,” say Local 40’s executive director, Robert Demand.

The next round of bargaining is scheduled for December 12-13.

For more information, please contact Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105 or [email protected] 

Nanaimo’s Coast Bastion Hotel Workers Ready to Strike

November 23, 2018
Sharan Pawa
604-473-4830
[email protected]

Nanaimo Hotel Workers Pose Strike as Holiday Season Looms

Workers Ready to Walk Off from Coast Bastion Hotel

 

Nanaimo – Coast Bastion Hotel workers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of authorizing a strike action. Frustrated with the lack of progress made in contract negotiations with hotel management, the workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, are prepared to take action for better hotel jobs.

 

B.C.’s tourism industry is booming, creating record profits for hotels. Yet hotel workers across our province are continually struggling to make ends meet, as well as secure medical benefits and liveable pensions. Coast Bastion Hotel workers have been in over a hundred hours of bargaining, yet management has failed to address serious workplace issues.

 

Coast Bastion workers are seeking a wage increase that reflects the increased cost of living in Nanaimo and a fair pension plan for staff that would keep retired workers out of poverty. Workers are also calling on the company to address heavy housekeeping workloads which increases the risk of injuries for room attendants on a daily basis as well as being detrimental to their long-term health.

 

While Coast Hotel workers are poised to strike in Nanaimo, workers at other Coast hotels in Victoria, Prince George and Kelowna continue to bargain.

 

After nine long days in three different cities across B.C., we’ve tried to negotiate with the company. Coast workers are fed up with the little progress made on wages and pension, and their absolutely disrespectful attitude addressing workload and language changes. The workers’ vote in favor of a strike demonstrates how we stand together in demanding a fair contract,” said Garry Constable, a Shop Steward at Coast Bastion Hotel.

 

Negotiations are scheduled to resume in Nanaimo on November 29.

 

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UNBC Cafeteria Workers Ratify New Contract

New agreement averts strike on campus

Union bargaining committee members

UNBC’s cafeteria workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 40 have unanimously ratified a new agreement with the university’s food provider, Compass Group.  Narrowly averting a strike, the new agreement ends the prolonged labour dispute at the university and addresses workers’ longstanding concerns over pay and job security.

Workers at UNBC’s Agora Dining Hall and Tim Hortons will receive raises of $2/hour at minimum, additional bonus pay, while entry-level wages for new workers will increase substantially to better meet the cost of living in Prince George.  The agreement establishes a new pension benefit for workers, significantly improves medical benefits and enshrines stronger anti-harassment and anti-discrimination standards to protect the rights of members engaged in union activity.  Cafeteria workers also achieved a path to job security with the new agreement.

“We are very pleased that these issues could be resolved.  We feel this agreement addresses our concerns and allows us to continue providing service to the students who rely on us,” said Jeannie Gilbert, a cook at UNBC’s Agora Dining Hall.

The workers have engaged in numerous job actions since the contract expired in April 2017.  After a year of little progress in bargaining, the workers issued a 72-hour strike notice earlier this month.  Workers have received an outpouring of support from faculty, students, labour and community allies who petitioned the university and participated in demonstrations and other actions.

“We want to acknowledge the support we received from the university community, including students, staff and faculty.  Without their support, we may not have been able to avoid a strike,” said Melody Danchuk, a long-term cafeteria worker and member of the union bargaining committee.

 

For more information, please contact: Octavian Cadabeschi, (604) 813-2105, [email protected]

YVR: First Class Airport, Second Class Jobs

Workers behind the concession counters at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) help make this North America’s #1 airport.  Workers take pride in welcoming the world to Vancouver while serving travelers a cup of coffee or a warm meal on the way to their destination.

While workers love working at YVR, too many of them are earning at, or slightly above, minimum wage, with few benefits.  The work is precarious.  Turnover is high and staffing is a challenge.  Many workers at YVR work two, sometimes three, jobs to make ends meet.  Worse, years of contract flipping has created a low-road for airport concession workers.  When concession leases expire, workers stand to lose higher wages and benefits they earned during their years of service. Workers are told to reapply for work and to start over at minimum wage.

We believe YVR could become a truly sustainable community partner by adopting policies that have a positive impact on its contracted workforce.  Major competing airports across the western seaboard, like SEA-TAC, SFO, LAX among others, are paying living wages to airport concession workers and have worker retention and labour peace policies that ensure a smooth transition when operators change.

We want YVR to adopt responsible contracting policies and become #1 when it comes to ensuring airport concession workers have sustainable, decent jobs. 

If you agree, visit us on Facebook and “Like” our page!   Or, if you are on Twitter, tweet a message to YVR:  “Concession workers @yvrairport need first class jobs!”

Prince George Workers Hold Demonstration at Ramada

(Prince George, BC) On Thursday, April 19, hotel and food service workers from across the city converged outside the Ramada Prince George Hotel for a demonstration organized by members of UNITE HERE! Local 40. The workers were joined by several Prince George unions, campus groups, and community allies.

Ramada workers, who have been in bargaining for almost a year, protested working conditions at the hotel.  They currently earn less than other unionized hotel workers in Prince George. Workers want management to address serious contract violations, a lack of adequate staffing and supplies during busy periods at the hotel, and to resolve basic issues that staff bring forward.

Unite Here Local 40 represents hundreds of workers across Prince George. In addition to the Ramada, Local 40 members are fighting for better working conditions at UNBC and Travelodge and will soon begin bargaining at Coast Inn of the North.  As the cost of living continues to increase, hotel and food service workers across Prince George are joining together to build a higher standard of living in their city, one workplace at a time.

“We all face a lot of the same problems where we work, regardless of that being UNBC or the Ramada. All of us need wages that we can live on, respect in the workplace, adequate staffing levels and safe working conditions. This is why we are working together to build a movement of workers standing up for one another. This action is only the beginning of that,” said Stacey Moen, a cook at the Ramada.

Members of several area Prince George unions and local community groups joined today’s demonstration.

“Hotel and hospitality workers add real economic value to our community by providing vital services. They deserve our full support in their struggle for decent wages and benefits, and better working conditions,” said Paul Ewert from Stand Up for the North Committee.

For more information, please contact: Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105 or [email protected]

Four Points by Sheraton Vancouver Airport Workers Vote Yes to Unionize

Vancouver, BC – Workers at the Four Points by Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel voted resoundingly to join BC’s hospitality union, UNITE HERE Local 40.   In a vote count conducted by the Labour Relations Board this morning, workers from the hotel’s housekeeping, front desk, kitchen, banquet, restaurant and maintenance departments, voted heavily in favour of joining Local 40.

“This is an important victory for Four Points workers who want to have a voice on the job and to be treated with respect and dignity in their workplace,” said Zailda Chan, the newly elected president of Local 40.

Workers filed for an election in January after a new owner acquired the hotel and changed labour practices.  Management cut back hours for senior workers and contracted out banquet and catering staff, whose pay then dropped to minimum wage.  Four Points workers voted to join thousands of other Local 40 hospitality members who have won better conditions at work and a better future for themselves and their families.

“Four Points workers, most of whom are part of Richmond’s Chinese and other immigrant communities, have taken the first step toward making a difference in their hotel. With the support of our union, they will now turn their attention to winning a good contract with fair wages and working conditions like other Local 40 members in British Columbia have won,” said Chan.

This vote is the first to be announced for Unite Here Local 40 under the new presidency of Zailda Chan, BC’s first Chinese-Canadian union president.

 

For more information, contact [email protected]

Press Release: Hotel and airport workers elect BC’s first Chinese-Canadian union president

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 21, 2018

Vancouver, BC:  At 2pm today, Zailda Chan will be sworn in as President of UNITE HERE Local 40. Surrounded by the workers she represents at the Hyatt Hotel, Zailda Chan will celebrate alongside other newly-elected officers, Christina Bencze (Finance Secretary-Treasurer) and Nomelita (Noy) Paguio (Vice-President), all women.

“Our new executive includes workers from all over the province – from Victoria to Prince George. We are a force to be reckoned with,” said Zailda Chan.

UNITE HERE Local 40’s leadership is its most diverse ever, more closely reflecting the make-up of its 6,500 members, most of whom work in hotels and airports across BC. Members work in food service – college cafeterias, country club dining rooms and airport terminals – and as hotel employees, the majority of whom are housekeepers.

“One of my proudest moments over the last decade as a union organizer was fighting to ensure that cafeteria workers at Simon Fraser University kept their contract, jobs, wages, benefits, years of service and, most importantly, their dignity, when their employer put their contract out to a new bidder,” said Zailda Chan. “Too often in BC, employers don’t take their obligations to workers seriously enough. A contract is a contract. At Local 40, our members’ rights come first. It’s about respect.”

Outgoing President Robert Demand notes: “Zailda Chan will be a great President for our union. She’s a fighter. She has a proven record of service to members and standing up for fairness and the power of working together for workers’ rights. I look forward to serving alongside Zailda Chan at the bargaining table.”

Nearly a third of UNITE HERE Local 40’s membership holds contracts that come up for renewal this year. “I want hotel workers to know – like at the Hyatt where we are holding our swearing-in celebration – that Local 40 will bring new energy and our on-going commitment to getting fair wages and benefits for all our members and for workers who want to join our union,” adds Zailda Chan.

“Travelers going through Vancouver Airport, pick up a sandwich or water but don’t realize that the people making those sandwiches and serving them are our members. Most of them make only $13 an hour. Minimum wage increases are essential if those workers’ families are to make ends meet. Together with the BC Federation of Labour, Local 40 is committed to supporting legislated increases to the minimum wage and employer wage concessions. Now is the time. This is the year.”

The great-great-granddaughter and grandniece of Vancouver railway workers from China – most of whom paid the “head tax” a century ago – Zailda Chan’s journey to the top of UNITE HERE Local 40 began at home.

Zailda Chan moved to Canada with her parents and siblings at 13 years old. Emigrating from Venezuela – having left earlier from one of the poorest regions in Guang Dong province of China – Zailda Chan’s parents took on garment work from home at ten cents per piece. Her family’s story is one of surviving low wage jobs, layoffs and subcontracting where the employer paid her mother nearly one-third the wage they had paid to its previous unionized workforce. Zailda Chan took her family’s early experiences of racism, poverty and under-employment, and built her commitment to fight for fairness, dignity and respect for every family.

Zailda Chan joined UNITE HERE Local 40 as an organizer in 2008 and, only ten years later, is now being sworn in as its President.  “UNITE HERE Local 40 is the union for hospitality workers in BC.  UNITE HERE showed me how to fight, and it is an incredible honour to become Local 40’s President.”

Irene Lanzinger, the President of the BC Federation of Labour, and MLA Mable Elmore will join the podium to celebrate Zailda Chan’s achievement alongside Chan’s UNITE HERE Local 40 team.

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Zailda Chan will be available immediately following the swearing in ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Georgia A room, at approximately 2:45PM. Interviews available in English, Cantonese and Spanish.

For media availability of Zailda Chan, please contact: Michelle Travis at 778-960-9785.

Local 40 Election Update