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

Workers protest Westin Bayshore’s “green” program which hurts hotel housekeepers

Part of Hospitality Workers’ Day of Action across Canada and the U.S.

 

This Thursday, hotels workers held an action at the Westin Bayshore to draw attention to how the company’s “Make a Green Choice” program leads to lost hours and income for workers, dirtier rooms, heavier workloads, and more chemicals being used on the job.

This is part of UNITE HERE ‘s day of action in which tens of thousands of hospitality workers are participating in demonstrations across 40 cities in Canada and the U.S.  Today’s actions include strikes, rallies, public announcements of union organizing campaigns, and worker delegations to call for justice at work.

In Vancouver, hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, protested and organized a delegation to Westin demanding that the Marriott chain end the use of the program.

Workers say the “Green Choice” program is a way for hotels to cut workers’ hours rather than conserve energy.  Under this “green” program, guests are incentivized with a $5 coupon to decline housekeeping for the day.  However, housekeepers report the dark side of the program:  their hours are cut from the schedule – causing a loss of income – and their workloads become heavier.  Rooms left unattended for several days can take three times as long to clean, and hotel housekeepers say they must use extra chemicals to clean these rooms.

Under the guise of the “Green Choice” program, the Westin Bayshore saves money at the expense of hotel housekeepers, primarily women, who see their jobs become more unpredictable and precarious.

Meanwhile, in Toronto this week, UNITE HERE Local 75 partnered with Oxfam Canada’s Shortchanged Campaign to call attention to hotel housekeepers’ working conditions across Canada and around the globe.  To view the video, see: https://www.facebook.com/OxfamCanada/videos/10155665228744277/

Today, women are leading the fight to create more sustainable jobs in the hotel industry!

 

Local 40 represents thousands of hospitality workers in the Lower Mainland and across BC.  The Local is an affiliate of UNITE HERE which represents over 270,000 members working in the hotel, food service, gaming and related industries. 

Notice of proposed Bylaw amendments

Click here for Proposed Bylaw Amendments: http://www.uniteherelocal40.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NEW-Local-40-bylaw-amendments-for-membership-meeting.pdf

Press Conference: Fairbnb Vancouver Calls for Better Enforcement of Short-Term Rentals

Vancouver – September 12, 2017 –  Today at 12pm, a coalition of local Vancouver groups will be releasing a report on the regulation of short-term rentals like Airbnb; the report has been drafted jointly with Canada’s national Fairbnb.ca coalition.

These groups include:

Mole Hill Community Housing Society, Generation Squeeze, LandlordBC, Vancouver Tenants Union, Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative, and UNITE HERE! Local 40

The report addresses a critical weakness in Vancouver’s proposed short-term rental by-law, which is currently under consideration by City Council.

WHERE: Vancouver City Hall Steps, North side.

WHEN: 12:00 noon, until approximately 12:30pm

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105, [email protected]

You can also follow us @fairbnbcanada on Twitter and Fairbnbcanada on Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice: Proposed Local 40 Bylaw Amendments

Approved by Executive Board, 26 June 2017 and 26 July 2017

To be voted on at Membership Meeting on 25 October 2017

Location TBA

Questions?  Please call 604-473-4829 or email [email protected]

Go to this link to view Bylaw Amendments: http://www.uniteherelocal40.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NEW-Local-40-bylaw-amendments-for-membership-meeting.pdf

 

 

Upcoming: UNITE HERE Local 40 Membership Meeting

Our next meeting will be held on:

Wednesday, April 26

5pm

SFU Harbour Centre, Room 2495

515 West Hastings Street (Vancouver)

All members welcome to attend.

SFU dining hall workers secure job guarantees from incoming contractor

Burnaby, BC – SFU dining hall workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, have reached an agreement with incoming food service contractor, Sodexo.  The agreement reached Thursday night means that all 174 dining hall workers will be rehired, with their seniority and wages intact.  Sodexo also agrees to offer equivalent health care and pension benefits to what workers currently hold. The agreement also ensures the workers’ union will be voluntarily recognized by the company on May 1.

“We are happy that we resolved our main concerns with Sodexho – that our jobs are safe and our union will be recognized.  Now, we look forward to working on our contract,” said Bruna Padularosa, a deli worker in Mackenzie Cafe who has worked at SFU for 29 years.

The agreement comes after weeks of actions held by workers and students demanding that SFU and Sodexo rehire all workers and recognize their years of service.  Dining hall workers received an outpouring of support from students, faculty and campus staff in the fight to retain their jobs.

“Cafeteria workers at SFU just won the first round of their fight.  They have shown the SFU Administration that vague promises aren’t good enough.  More than that, they have taught the rest of us how to organize–and just how much power we have when we do,” said George Temple, a PhD student and member of TSSU.

“From the beginning, we have said that the only acceptable transition is one in which SFU and the new contractor not only commit to hiring the existing workers, but to recognize their years of service, and keep their health care and other benefits,” said Robert Demand, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.  “This agreement puts us on a positive path with Sodexo,” said Demand.

The dining services contract was recently awarded to Sodexo.  Sodexo will be replacing current food vendor, Chartwells, on May 1.

While dining hall workers were resolving issues with Sodexo, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike in response to Chartwells’ failure to fairly compensate workers over the last school year.  The issue must be resolved before Chartwells leaves on April 30.  The workers’ contract expired last August.

 

Workers Stage 12-Hour Protest at Sheraton Van Airport Hotel

WHAT:  12-hour protest by workers from the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel and other area-hotels.  Starts with 7am Wake-Up action, choir performance at 1pm, and ends with an afternoon rally at 5pm.

WHO:  Hospitality members of UNITE HERE Local 40, MLA Mabel Elmore, MLA Shane Simpson, community supporters representing the Kairos Network, UBC Social Justice Centre and the Labour Chorus.

WHERE:  Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, 7551 Westminster Hwy, Richmond

WHEN:  Thursday, December 1, 2016; 7am– 7pm

 

BACKGROUND: 

RICHMOND – Workers at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport say the high-end hotel has to stop paying low-end wages. The 180 unionized housekeepers, front desk staff, bellhops and cooks will rally outside the hotel for 12 hours Thursday starting with a Wake-Up noise demonstration at 7am.  Workers are seeking wage and workload parity with comparable hotels in the area that pay about $4 more per hour.

The call for a fair wage adjustment during current contact talks comes during unparalleled growth in the hotel industry.  Vancouver’s hotels are enjoying record profits with revenues expected to continue growing in 2017.

Sheraton’s workers earn an average of $8,000 a year less than workers at similar high-end hotels.  Hotel workers, mostly immigrants and mostly women, are speaking out against disrespectful treatment and the economic impact of being left behind. They want owner Larco Hospitality to improve standards and workload safety at the hotel and bargain directly with the union.  Little progress has been made in negotiations so far. Contact talks are scheduled to resume on Friday.

 

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