PRESS RELEASE: B.C. Hotel Workers Launch “Unequal Women” Campaign; Women Hotel Workers Push Back Against Pandemic Firings

Vancouver, BC – On International Women’s Day, UNITE HERE Local 40 held a press conference and rally at Jack Poole Plaza to announce a new campaign highlighting the impact of pandemic firings on British Columbia’s women hotel workers. The campaign – Unequal Women: 19th Century Treatment in 21st Century British Columbiafocuses on how B.C.’s hotel industry is refusing to bring back the women who clean hotel rooms, cook meals, and serve guests as the industry recovers.

Women, particularly women of colour, constitute the majority of hourly wage workers in the hotel sector and bear the brunt of pandemic firings. Hotels across B.C. including Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, Pacific Gateway, Pan Pacific Vancouver and many others have refused to commit to bring women back to their jobs as business returns. Instead, mass pandemic firings are being used to strip away economic gains made by women who served their hotels for decades. Women will face a smoother recovery if they are able to return to their pre-pandemic jobs.

“I’m a single mom with two kids, ages 12 and 13. It’s been a very stressful time figuring out how to take care of my family. My hotel was taken over by the federal government to quarantine travellers when the pandemic hit. The hotel is firing my laid-off co-workers and threatening to get rid of most of us by the end of March. The government should be doing more to make sure we don’t lose our jobs.  We can’t let the hotel industry set women back to an earlier era,” said Elisa Cardona, laid-off hostess at the Pacific Gateway Hotel.

For Jerty Gaa, a public area attendant who served Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel for 11 years before being fired, the impact of the pandemic was devastating: “I thought I was going to retire here – but the hotel used the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of us. I’m 54 years old so it’s hard for me to start again. I just want my job back when all this is over. What is the government doing to help us keep our jobs?”

Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40 President, said: “The hotel industry’s actions tell women they don’t matter. They want to keep women unequal – because unequal women in the hotel industry have no economic power and no voice. But this is the 21st century, not the 19th century. Women made BC’s hospitality industry successful – and women will fight for the right to be returned to their jobs.”

Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected], or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

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UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service, construction camps, and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.

Press Release: Victoria City Council Passes Motion to Support Laid-off Hospitality Workers

Similar resolution adopted by New Westminster City Council this week 

Vancouver, BC – Today, Victoria City Council unanimously passed a motion to support laid-off hospitality workers and called for a return to their jobs as business recovers. Councillor Sharmarke Dubow introduced the motion after some B.C. hotels, such as Coast Victoria Hotel & Marina, recently terminated laid-off workers. The City of Victoria is the second municipality in the province to pass the motion.

Noting how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and impacted BC’s 50,000 hotel workers, the majority of whom are women and people of colour, the motion requests that the City write to the Ministers of Labour and Tourism expressing its support for the right of workers to return to their jobs when the pandemic eases.

The motion, which refers to B.C. hotels refusing to commit to bring workers back to their jobs, affirmed that workers should not lose their livelihoods due to the pandemic.  It calls on the City to encourage other B.C. municipalities to show their support for hospitality workers and urges the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to host future conferences and events in venues that respect workers’ rights.

The Victoria City Council sent a strong message today that hotel workers deserve the right to return their jobs when business recovers.  Women and people of colour who predominantly work in this sector will fall further behind in the economic recovery unless our communities step up.  We’re calling on other municipalities to join us to ensure hotel workers do not lose their livelihoods because of the pandemic,” said Victoria City Councillor Sharmarke Dubow.

Earlier this week, New Westminster Council unanimously passed a similar resolution, introduced by Councillor Nadine Nakagawa. That motion also calls on the City of New Westminster to support the right of laid off workers to return to their jobs as business conditions improve. It also urges the City to contact the Lower Mainland Local Government Association and UBCM about holding events in worker friendly venues that pay a living wage.   

Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected], or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

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 UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service, construction camps, and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.

Local 40 Hardship Fund – 2nd Round of Application Open Until April 1, 2021

 
This Fund was established by UNITE HERE Local 40 to assist members who have encountered financial and related difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before applying, please ensure:
 
– you did not previously receive hardship funding from Local 40. We will not accept past approved applicants.
– you are a hospitality worker
– you have attempted to get assistance elsewhere, such as governmental assistance, BC Rent Subsidy, food banks, etc.
*Hardship funding of UP TO $500 will be provided for each person, depending on the bills or receipts the applicant submits.* For example, if you submit a $100 credit card bill, we will pay $100, not $500 for your bill. Up to 3 OUTSTANDING invoices may be submitted in order to maximize the amount received.

Your application will be reviewed by the Hardship Fund Committee. The Committee consists of rank and file members from five different Local 40 properties around BC. Limited funds are available and one-time grants will be provided. The hardship fund will aid members during emergency situations such as foreclosure/evictions, utilities being shut off, medical bills in collections, death/funeral expenses, food, diapers, or other critical circumstances.

To apply, download and  fill out this form (Microsoft Word doc) and save and email it to  [email protected] You can also  apply online. All requests will be completely confidential.

DEADLINE: April 1, 2021. After this date, no further applications will be accepted.

Burnaby Mayor to Hilton Metrotown: Stop Pandemic Firings of Women

Burnaby, BC – Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley has rebuked Hilton Metrotown for its treatment of workers, particularly the women who clean hotel rooms and serve guests.  In a letter to hotel management, Mayor Hurley urged Hilton to guarantee laid-off workers be allowed to return to their jobs when business recovers.  The letter comes after Hilton terminated dozens of laid-off workers this month and indicated plans to eliminate much of its workforce by the end of March.

In a letter to the hotel, Mayor Hurley lent his support to women hotel workers who have been particularly hard hit by Hilton’s actions.

“Hilton Metrotown is treating the women who have long served Burnaby’s visitors like they’re disposable.  That is unacceptable.  Women who clean rooms and serve guests are the backbone of the hotel industry.  Hotel workers deserve the right to get their jobs back when business returns.  As we enter Women’s History Month, Hilton Metrotown is proving itself to be on the wrong side of history,” said Mayor Hurley.

“We thank Mayor Hurley for his support of hotel workers, especially the women who have made Hilton Metrotown a success.  Hilton is using the pandemic to take advantage of workers, but the women who have raised their families on these jobs will not allow them to get away with this,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

Hilton workers recently launched a partial strike and are urging customers not to spend money at the hotel.

Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected], or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

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UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service, construction camps, and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.

BREAKING: Workers at Federal Quarantine Hotel, Pacific Gateway, Vote to Strike

Immigrant women ask Prime Minister Trudeau, “Will you be crossing our picket line?”

Vancouver – Workers from the Pacific Gateway Hotel, currently a federal quarantine site, have voted 91% in favour of strike action. The workers voted to strike after the hotel followed through on its threat to terminate laid-off workers, including women with up to 19 years of service at the hotel. Pacific Gateway refuses to recall their staff when business recovers. The hotel has indicated plans to terminate the majority of its workers by the end of March.

Picket lines could go up any time after workers issue 72-hour strike notice. The workers are represented by UNITE HERE Local 40.

Pacific Gateway’s actions will hit women of colour the hardest. Future job losses will disproportionately impact older immigrant women from the South Asian, Chinese, and Filipino communities who have served the hotel for decades.

Despite efforts to engage the Liberal government and hotel management, workers have been displaced since the government brought in the Red Cross to replace them and perform similar job duties. Now, the hotel plans to terminate them.

The Liberal Government has acknowledged that women and racialized Canadians have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Yet, the federal quarantine hotel’s actions are destroying the livelihoods of Canada’s most vulnerable workers. Women at Pacific Gateway are not allowing this to happen without a fight to save their hotel jobs.

“I’m a single mom with two kids ages 12 and 13. I need my job. The government should be protecting our jobs so we can return when business comes back. If Pacific Gateway gets away with firing us, other hotels will follow suit. That’s why we are going to fight back; we can’t let this happen. Will Justin Trudeau do the same? Or will he be crossing our picket line when we strike?” said Elisa Cardona, laid-off hostess who has worked at Pacific Gateway for 7 years.

“Women at this hotel are on the verge of losing everything they worked so hard for when they immigrated to Canada. Will Prime Minister Trudeau allow this to happen?  We cannot allow hotels like Pacific Gateway to roll back the clock on women’s economic livelihoods. When the picket line goes up, we expect the Prime Minister to join us in saying ‘No’ to unequal women in the hotel industry,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

Media Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]; or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected].

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UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service, construction camps, and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.