Media Advisory: Hotel workers call out sexual violence in Vancouver hospitality industry, Hotel Georgia singled out

WHAT: UNITE HERE Local 40 will hold a press conference outside of Hotel Georgia this Tuesday at 11:00AM followed by a protest at Vancouver City Hall at 5:00PM in response to persistent sexual harassment and assault reports from women working in Vancouver hotels and restaurants. These reports include an incident of assault on a female staff member at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Canada’s #1 rated hotel.

Women working in some of Vancouver’s most prominent hotels are set to come forward with experiences of sexual harassment they have faced on the job that reveal the pervasiveness of the problem and the worst actors in the industry. They are calling on the City of Vancouver to take measures to ensure that all women working in the hospitality industry are safe from sexual harassment and assault.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

11:00AM PST Press Conference
Hotel Georgia, 801 W Georgia St, Vancouver

5:00PM PST Protest attended by women, labour and faith organizations
Vancouver City Hall, 453 W 12th Ave, Vancouver

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Contact: Sharan Pawa, 604-725-0053, [email protected]

Press Release: Rosewood Hotel Georgia staff highlight disparity at Canada’s #1 hotel

VANCOUVER – Staff at Canada’s top-rated hotel, Rosewood Hotel Georgia, held a boisterous demonstration yesterday in the heart of downtown Vancouver.  Nearly three hundred workers and supporters gathered outside the luxury hotel to protest working conditions that do not meet its five-star standard.  The hotel has been rated the #1 hotel in the country, with rooms priced at $550 a night and higher.

photo: Michael YC Tseng

“We provide a very high level of service at our hotel and have been consistently recognized for our quality.  We need jobs and wages that match the excellent service we provide to our guests every day,” said James Sugden, a cook at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

Hotel Georgia room attendants, cooks, servers, stewards, and other staff, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, were joined by a large contingent of hotel workers from nearby downtown Vancouver hotels as well as community and labour supporters.  They called on the owner, Pacific Reach Properties, to raise the bar when it comes to treatment of workers, especially women, in their hotel and restaurant establishments.

In 2017, Pacific Reach Properties bought the Hotel Georgia, described by one publication as an “adult playground.”  Several female staff recently reported concerns about how the company handles harassment experienced by women on the job.  The Union has reached an agreement with hotel operator, Rosewood Hotels, who has committed to address specific concerns about discrimination and harassment in an effort to improve the working environment.  Terms of the settlement are confidential.

Hotel Georgia workers want industry-settings wages and job standards commensurate to the elevated level of service they are expected to provide.  Some staff report the need to work second or third jobs to make ends meet and the need for expanded access to medical benefits.  Other issues include the lack of supplies needed to perform their work and additional concerns about safety.  The Union is currently in contract bargaining with the company to provide the best standard in the city and pressing for further safety measures, such as panic buttons and bans on guests who sexually harass staff.

Rosewood Hotel Georgia is one of five downtown hotels currently in contract bargaining with UNITE HERE Local 40 this summer.  There are approximately 1,500 hotel workers represented in the five hotels.

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For more information, contact: Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

Media Advisory: Demonstration at Canada’s #1 hotel to call for safe, secure jobs

WHAT: UNITE HERE Local 40 will hold an action this Thursday at Rosewood Hotel Georgia, rated Canada’s #1 hotel, to create a work environment that meets its five-star standard. Hotel staff and community leaders will be calling on the owner, Pacific Reach Properties, to raise the bar when it comes to treatment of workers, especially women, in their hotel and restaurant establishments.

WHERE: Rosewood Hotel Georgia, 801 W. Georgia, Vancouver

WHEN: Thursday, June 20, 2019; 5:00PM PST

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Contacts: Michelle Travis, (778) 960-9785, [email protected];
Sharan Pawa, 604-725-0053, [email protected]

UNITE HERE Local 40 Bylaw Amendments

Proposed bylaw amendments will be discussed and voted on during UNITE HERE Local 40’s General Membership Meeting taking place:

Wednesday, July 31st at 5pm 

BCIT Downtown Vancouver – Rm 54
(555 Seymour Street)

Click here to view or download the bylaw amendments

For any questions please contact [email protected]

Thank you, The UNITE HERE Local 40 Team

UPDATE: UNITE HERE Local 40 Press Conference at Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Vancouver – Today’s press conference, scheduled for today at 12PM, has been cancelled so that the parties can meet and attempt a resolution of all related concerns over a 10-day period.

WHAT:          UNITE HERE Local 40 press conference at Rosewood Hotel Georgia

WHERE:        Rosewood Hotel Georgia, 801 W. Georgia, Vancouver

WHEN:          Wednesday, June 5, 2019; 12PM PST CANCELLED

Contact: Michelle Travis, (778) 960-9785, [email protected]

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PRESS RELEASE: UNITE HERE, NDP MP Brian Masse call for investigation into privacy, security risks for Canadian companies tied to Chinese state-owned Anbang

Masse urges federal Privacy Commissioner to investigate concerns

Ottawa – UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers union, and MP Brian Masse (Windsor West), NDP Critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development, held a press conference today on Parliament Hill to raise questions about privacy and security risks faced by those working in, or in the care of, Canadian companies tied to Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese-state owned enterprise. Anbang owns Canadian nursing home chain, Retirement Concepts, and has ties to Canada’s largest hotel company, InnVest Hotels.

Masse is calling on Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien to launch an investigation into privacy and security risks to Canadian customers, employees and operators of Chinese state-controlled Anbang and Bluesky, whose ownership is murky and its president is a former Anbang executive. The two companies have access to large troves of personally identifiable information on thousands of Canadian workers, seniors, and hotel guests.

Mounting tensions between Canada and China, in addition to news about the Chinese state’s involvement in cyber attacks, such as the intrusion into the Marriott chain compromising the personal information of nearly 500 million Starwood guests over a four-year period, should prompt Ottawa to review these investments in long-term care and hospitality.

UNITE HERE has been meeting with MP’s this week to call for action to protect workers and others whose information may be vulnerable. UNITE HERE represents hospitality workers that work in businesses owned by Pacific Reach Properties, the operator of Retirement Concepts, and Bluesky-owned InnVest Hotels. The Union sent a letter to Minister Bains and Minister Goodale earlier this month questioning whether Anbang is still compliant under the Investment Canada Act since becoming a state-owned enterprise and how Ottawa is securing Canadians’ sensitive personal data under Anbang and Bluesky’s control.

“China’s control over Anbang and its relationship to Bluesky deserves deeper scrutiny. Would Ottawa approve either of these deals today, particularly given the Chinese state’s takeover of Anbang and its aggressive posture toward Canada?” asked Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE’s B.C. Local.

An affiliate of Pacific Reach Properties sold a controlling stake in Retirement Concepts to Anbang in 2017. Ottawa approved the $1 billion transaction over strong objections from critics. One year later, the Beijing-based company was seized by Chinese authorities who subsequently transferred ownership to the state. Reports suggest Anbang may have also been behind the acquisition of InnVest Hotels, which holds a portfolio of 80 hotels across Canada. InnVest was acquired by a shell company, Bluesky Hotels, and is fronted by a former Anbang executive.

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Contact: Michelle Travis
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: (778) 960-9785

ANNOUCEMENT: General Membership Meeting

On May 22, 2019, the Local 40 Executive Board voted to recommend that the Local move its office to a new location in downtown Vancouver upon the completion of its current lease on September 30, 2019.

Local 40’s President calls for a Special Membership Meeting for the purpose of reviewing and voting on this recommendation.

The Special Membership Meeting shall be held:

Friday, June 7 at 5pm
SFU Harbour Centre
UPDATE: Room HC1530

See attached image for more info:

Press Release: YVR Airport CEO says no guarantee of successor rights for contracted food workers

Contract-flipping at YVR may continue despite looming changes to provincial, federal code

Vancouver – UNITE HERE Local 40, which represents contracted foodservice workers at YVR Airport, held a press conference today to urge Vancouver Airport Authority to rehire the 90 foodservice workers who work at three contracted units and who stand to lose their jobs due to contract-flipping.

As the NDP Government tables legislation to amend the BC Labour Code and extend successorship protections to contracted foodservice workers, Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Craig Richmond says YVR will only promise job interviews for the 90 workers at HMSHost, the operator of the airport White Spot, Brioche Doree and Burger King.  Mr. Richmond said at a YVR’s recent annual meeting they won’t guarantee the 90 workers will be rehired by incoming contractors – despite the forthcoming law change. YVR retendered HMSHost’s contract and awarded the bid to a new contractor who will takeover operation of the outlets in fall 2019 and early 2020.

“We want YVR, as a community leader, and an economic leader, to embrace the new successorship law.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  YVR should make it their policy that all YVR contractors must hire current staff and that workers keep their wages, their benefits, and their union contract, said Robert Demand, Executive Director, UNITE HERE Local 40.

Federal and provincial levels of government have acted recently to address contract-flipping.  In December, the federal government passed legislation that will protect some workers in federally-regulated sectors from contract-flipping, such as security guards and maintenance staff at airports.  At the provincial level, the B.C. government recently made changes that protects workers from contract-flipping in the health care sector.  The Province recently introduced legislation to reform the BC Labour Code, including the extension of successorship protections to contracted foodservice, janitorial, security and transportation workers.

For more information contact: Michelle Travis at (778) 960-9785 or [email protected]

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Vancouver’s hotel workers hold protest at Rosewood Hotel Georgia – Workers demand better industry standards and call for an end to precarious work

Vancouver – Hotel workers from downtown Vancouver’s most prestigious hotels, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, held a protest on Tuesday, May 14th outside of Rosewood Hotel Georgia, named the #1 hotel in Canada by U.S. News & World Report. Rosewood Hotel Georgia, a luxury hotel charging up to $7,000 per night for a suite, should be leading the industry in terms of decent working conditions for Vancouver’s hotel workers. At a time of record profits, workers are demanding that the hotel and others in the downtown core offer 5-star working conditions, including full-time jobs.

Over 1,500 UNITE HERE Local 40 members from Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront are currently in contract negotiations demanding significant improvements for hospitality workers. Despite Vancouver’s tourism boom, the hotel industry has progressively cut workers’ hours, turning full-time positions into on-call, precarious jobs. This makes it difficult for hotel workers, predominantly women, to achieve liveable incomes.

Vancouver’s downtown hotel workers are fighting for full-time hours, safe workloads, an end to gender discrimination, and higher wages in order to provide for their families in North America’s most expensive city. Job security is also a major concern in these negotiations, and especially critical for workers at the Four Seasons which is set to close in January 2020. Four Seasons workers want to be rehired when the hotel opens in a new location.

I am proud to be a hotel worker, but the hotel industry needs to treat us better. One recent summer, over 20 of my co-workers were on WCB because of injuries caused by the high workload in only two months. Even though my hotel is making tons of money, I don’t even have stable 40 hours of work,” said Nym Calvez, Housekeeper at the Pinnacle Hotel and an Executive Board Member of UNITE HERE Local 40.

It has become a widespread practice for hotel workers to be classified as a full-time employees, yet are routinely assigned less than 40 hours per week. The workers are required to be available on-call, making it difficult to search for a second job.

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Contact:

Sharan Pawa, 604-725-0053, [email protected]  

UNITE HERE urges Federal Ministers to protect Canadians data in hotels, nursing homes with ties to the People’s Republic of China

China’s latest threats cause concern over security, privacy risks

For Immediate Release

Vancouver, May 9, 2019 – UNITE HERE, the union for hospitality workers, is formally urging Ottawa to assess the security and privacy risks stemming from the Chinese government’s control of a Canadian nursing home chain and its ties to Canada’s largest hotel company.

Anbang, owner of nursing home chain Retirement Concepts, is controlled by the Chinese government and may have been behind the acquisition of InnVest Hotels.  In a letter* to Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains and Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale, UNITE HERE urges the government to undertake a new assessment of the risks to Canadians in these sectors given escalating diplomatic tensions with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

UNITE HERE is asking Ottawa to examine Anbang and Bluesky and determine who has access to sensitive personal data managed on their behalf and to identify what protocols are in place to secure the personal, financial, medical and other sensitive information belonging to seniors, employees and hotel customers across Canada.

The PRC’s ties to the senior care and hospitality sectors may provide access to large troves of personally identifiable data on Canadians.  It was recently reported that China’s Ministry of State Security was behind the massive cyber attack against the Marriott hotel chain which compromised the personal information of nearly 500 million Starwood guests over a four-year period.

“China’s latest retaliatory actions against Canada and its history of cyber attacks is alarming.  We think an examination into whether the appropriate due diligence has been undertaken and an assessment of the potential risks to Canadians needs to be urgently addressed by the federal government,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE’s British Columbia Local. 

An affiliate of Vancouver-based Pacific Reach Properties sold Retirement Concepts to Anbang in 2017.  Retirement Concepts is British Columbia’s largest senior care chain with two facilities in Alberta and one in Quebec.  Anbang was seized by Chinese authorities soon after and brought under state control after its CEO was sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud and embezzlement.  The Chinese government holds a 98 per-cent stake in Anbang.

Last year, Ottawa blocked the sale of construction giant Aecon to CCCI over national security concerns.  The Chinese government holds a 64 per-cent stake in CCCI’s parent company.

Press reports have speculated that Anbang could be behind Bluesky’s acquisition of InnVest, Canada’s largest hotel owner. The ownership of Bluesky remains murky, but the CEO of its subsidiary, InnVest, is a former Anbang executive.  Bluesky owns the Hyatt Vancouver, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, the Ottawa Marriott and nearly 80 other hotels in major cities across Canada.

Last month, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliament (NSICOP) warned in a report that China is a threat due to its efforts to engage in espionage and foreign influence activities in Canada.

“How is Ottawa, or even the companies managing nursing homes and hotels with ties to the Chinese government, prepared to protect thousands of seniors, employees and the travelling public from the PRC’s intelligence gathering efforts?” said Chan.

UNITE HERE represents over 270,000 hospitality workers throughout Canada and the United States, including some who work in hotels owned by Pacific Reach Properties, which continues to operate Retirement Concepts, and Bluesky Hotels & Resorts.

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Contact:

Michelle Travis, [email protected], (778) 960-9785

*A copy of UNITE HERE’s letter to Minister Bains and Minister Goodale is available upon request.