Fired Women Protest, Call on MP Ron McKinnon to Protect their Jobs at Quarantine Hotel

Coquitlam, B.C.— Today, striking Pacific Gateway hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, held a demonstration outside MP Ron McKinnon’s office to urge him to protect their jobs. Ron McKinnon is the MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam and Chair of the Standing Committee on Health, which Pacific Gateway workers testified in front of recently. The federal government’s inaction over the Richmond hotel’s mass firings has exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on women, making their lives more insecure and unequal during COVID. Pacific Gateway, one of the first quarantine hotels set up in Canada when COVID-19 hit, has terminated 74% of its female employees since February 2021 instead of calling workers back to their jobs as business resumes. The government has extended its contract at Pacific Gateway through December 31st. 

Kiran Dhillon, a fired Pacific Gateway room attendant of 17 years: “We need MP Ron McKinnon to step up and put pressure on Justin Trudeau to act! How much longer is our Prime Minister going to continue to cross our picket line while we struggle to put food on the table and care for our children? I have two kids and it’s been stressful getting by day to day. I need my job to provide for my children’s futures. 90% of my housekeeping department were fired just because of the pandemic. If this what our national leader calls a feminist recovery? This is unacceptable!”

A human rights complaint over sex and racial discrimination was filed against the hotel last month alleging women, particularly racialized women, have been disproportionately targeted for terminations while men’s jobs were more likely to be protected.  

Pacific Gateway workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, went on strike on May 3, 2021 over mass firings and drastic economic rollbacks.  Workers have asked to return to their jobs after the federal quarantine ends and when the work becomes available again. The hotel has refused.

For additional information, please contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]

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

 

South Korean Ambassador to Canada Urged to Intervene in Hilton Metrotown Hotel Lockout

Vancouver, BC – Today, in a multi-city action, locked out Hilton Metrotown workers and their supporters across the country urged South Korea’s Ambassador to Canada to intervene in the growing dispute with a Seoul-based hotel owner.  The workers, who have been locked out for over 100 days, called on South Korea’s Ambassador, Keung Ryong Chang, to engage members of the prominent and politically connected family that owns DSDL Co., the owner of Hilton Metrotown.  

Workers and their supporters led actions at South Korean consulates in Vancouver and Toronto, and its embassy in Ottawa. They led delegations to meet with consulate & embassy officials, leafletted consulate staff and, in some locations, demonstrated outside the consulate building.  

Since the pandemic began, Hilton Metrotown workers have urged the hotel and its owner to return workers to their jobs as business conditions improve.  Instead, DSDL-owned Hilton Metrotown fired 97 workers and locked out remaining staff in mid-April this year.  DSDL has not shown any willingness to resolve the protracted dispute. DSDL is owned by the Cho family, members of which founded Hyosung, the world’s leading producer of spandex.  Their actions have prompted boycotts and widespread support for the workers.

The BC Federation of Labour issued a public boycott of Hilton Metrotown in May, which could cost the hotel up to $3 million in lost business alone. The Alberta Federation of Labour has called for a boycott beginning on August 8 of three DSDL-owned hotels in Edmonton. Last week, unionized workers from a DSDL-owned hotel in Quebec City set up a symbolic picket line to protest Hilton Metrotown’s mistreatment of its employees.

In a letter to the South Korean ambassador this week, UNITE HERE Local 40 President Zailda Chan said: “We are deeply concerned that the crisis at Hilton Metrotown, between working people in British Columbia – many of them racialized women – and members of the South Korean business and political elite, will negatively damage ongoing good faith and trust between communities of the two countries. We’re urging you, Ambassador Chang, to intervene with DSDL to resolve this escalating conflict in Canada.

For additional information, please contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]

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

 

Fired Women Protest at Federal Government of Canada Offices; Call on PM Trudeau to Protect their Jobs at Quarantine Hotel

Vancouver, B.C.— Striking Pacific Gateway hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, will hold a demonstration on Thursday, July 22, to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop crossing their picket line. The federal government’s inaction over the hotel’s mass firings has exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on women, making their lives more insecure and unequal during COVID. Pacific Gateway, one of the first quarantine hotels set up in Canada when COVID-19 hit, refuses to guarantee workers the right to return to their jobs as the economy restarts. The hotel has terminated 74% of its female employees since February 2021.

 

WHO:        Pacific Gateway hotel workers and allies from the Lower Mainland.

 

WHERE: Library Square, 300 W Georgia Street, Vancouver BC 

 

WHEN: Thursday, July 22, 5 p.m

 

VISUALS:     Hotel workers chanting with colourful banners, signs, and bullhorns.

 

Media availability with UNITE HERE Local 40 and hotel workers.

 

For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]

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

 

Quebec Hotel Workers with FC-CSN Protest in Solidarity with Locked Out Hilton Metrotown Hotel Workers in BC

Media Contacts:

French: Gabriel Velasco, 604-360-0507, [email protected]
English: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]

Quebec City, QC — Today, hotel workers from Quebec and BC set up a symbolic picket line outside DSDL-owned l’Hotel PUR because the owner has refused to rehire workers they laid off due to the pandemic. DSDL Canada fired almost 100 long-term workers at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown in BC during COVID-19 instead of guaranteeing them a right to return to their jobs as business returns. Hilton Metrotown workers launched a boycott through 2022 for union customers that is costing the offshore company millions of dollars in lost business. Last week, the Alberta Federation of Labour issued a boycott deadline of August 8th to DSDL-owned Varscona, Mettera, and Matrix hotels in Edmonton. Now, l’Hotel PUR workers in Quebec, represented by FC-CSN, are demanding that DSDL end the conflict and bring workers back to their jobs.

In a demonstration of interprovincial solidarity to call on DSDL to end the labour dispute in BC and stop taking advantage of hotel workers across Canada, l’Hotel PUR workers sent letters to hotel management as well as hardship fund donations to the fired and locked out staff at Hilton Metrotown. 

DSDL Canada Investments is a subsidiary of South Korean-based DSDL Co. The hotel owner is taking advantage of the pandemic to fire its workers and roll back decades of economic gains, disproportionately impacting women and immigrants. 

Cecilia Rutter, locked out Hilton Metrotown worker:

“I’m angry at how DSDL is treating us hotel workers across Canada. I’m struggling to survive and only worked a few shifts before I got locked out on April 16th. That’s why I’m grateful to l’Hotel PUR workers for standing with us today in Quebec City. Together, we will fight back to protect our jobs.”

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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.

 

Press Release: Hotel Workers’ Union Calls on U.S. Government to Investigate $34 million in Taxpayer Loans to Canadian-based Westmont Hospitality

Owner of Pan Pacific Vancouver and other hotels collected $34 million in U.S. Paycheck Protection Program Loans despite eliminating staff; echoes Westmont’s use of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, concerns over unchecked use of COVID-related government subsidies and loans

VANCOUVER, BC – UNITE HERE Locals representing hotel workers in British Columbia, Southern California, and Arizona are demanding that the U.S. Government halt loan forgiveness for $34 million in Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans connected to Westmont Hospitality.  In a letter to the U.S. Small Business Association, the Locals request an investigation into 35-Westmont connected loans, and question how many of their 4,024 reported employees tied to the loans were terminated.

Westmont took advantage of a loophole that enabled large hotel chains to apply for forgivable loans originally intended for small businesses to return workers to payroll.  Westmont claims to be one of the largest privately held hospitality organizations in the world, holding an ownership interest in and operating over 500 hotels.  The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”), which oversees the PPP, has already forgiven one loan tied to the firm’s corporate office in Houston.

PPP borrowers were required to spend 60% of PPP loan proceeds on payroll costs to qualify for full loan forgiveness, but the SBA has not disclosed how Westmont has used its PPP loans.  In the U.S., a Westmont-owned hotel obtained two PPP loans tied to the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville in Florida worth $5.49 million. WARN notices filed by the hotel indicate 121 workers were terminated.

The letter asks whether Westmont received any loans connected to the Pan Pacific Vancouver in British Columbia. The hotel fired approximately 100 long-term workers during the pandemic and induced remaining workers to sign away their full-time status and severance rights.  Westmont, headquartered in Mississauga, owns Pan Pacific Vancouver, Fairmont Waterfront and co-owns the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and The Douglas, and controls dozens more hotels across North America.

The largesse from the U.S. Government prompts questions over how much Westmont has received in public subsidies from Canada’s federal wage subsidy program (CEWS) and in government-backed loans through the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP).  Although Westmont affiliates tied to Pan Pacific Vancouver and Fairmont Waterfront tapped CEWS, both hotels terminated long-term staff during the pandemic contrary to the intent of the program.

Westmont may also benefit from the newly launched federal hiring subsidy, the Canada Recovery Hiring Benefit (CRHP), and the Tourism Relief Fund which provides tourism operators with up to $500,000 in funding.  The Trudeau government has not required public reporting of amounts received by individual businesses for COVID-related subsidies or government-backed loans to ensure programs are not abused.

Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40, said: “Westmont Hospitality has reaped millions in taxpayer relief from the U.S. and Canadian governments while turning their backs on their employees during the pandemic.  Hotel employers should not be rewarded for eroding the jobs of their workers, primarily women and racialized people, on the government’s dime.  How much longer should taxpayers across our two nations support Westmont while their workers fall through the cracks?”

UNITE HERE Local 40 represents workers at Pan Pacific Vancouver.  UNITE HERE Local 11 represents workers at Westmont-operated Hilton Hotel & Suites in Santa Monica and westdrift Manhattan Beach in California.

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