New agreement averts strike on campus
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]
Prince George – UNITE HERE! Local 40 members who serve food at UNBC have issued a 72 hour strike notice. The union represents workers at UNBC’s Agora Dining Hall and at Tim Hortons.
The workers are employees of Chartwells, UNBC’s food service contractor. The union and the contractor have been engaged in contract negotiations for over a year. Many of the workers earn low wages and have poor benefits – issues that must be resolved in order to avoid a strike. Additionally, workers lack even basic job security in case the university changes food service contractors. Cafeteria workers are committed to transforming food service jobs at UNBC into stable, living wage jobs. The next round of bargaining is scheduled for Tuesday, October 9.
Check back here for updates on a possible strike.
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(For Chinese language version, see below)
April 20, 2018 (Vancouver, BC) – “This is a historical moment for many Chinese Canadians and especially for family like me who are descendants of Head Tax payers and Canadian railway workers.
“It is important for Vancouverites to understand and acknowledge the history of Chinese segregation and racism in Vancouver. Fairness is essential and that’s what drives my service with the union.
“Many hospitality workers of UNITE HERE Local 40 are immigrants and many of them are from China. They work under challenging and precarious conditions like long hours, heavy workloads and risk of injury yet they earn only minimum pay with no job security. They have endured much hardship to build a life here, and their contribution to the success of Vancouver’s hospitality industry is often unrecognized.
“An apology would only be meaningful if there are actions to bring changes. I long to see changes in the working and living condition of workers in the City. I want to empower them to fight for equitable jobs and respect, not only in our workplaces but also in our communities.”
April 20, 2018 (卑詩省・溫哥華) – 「對於許多華裔加人及尤其像我的家人那樣，作為人頭稅和加拿大鐵路工人的後人，這是一個歷史性時候。
不少UNITE HERE 40 分會會員是移民，當中不少來自中國。他們經常在有挑戰性及危險的環境下長時間辛勞工作，卻只有最低時薪，也沒有就業保障。
For media availability, please contact: Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785
(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]
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]
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.
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 members stand strong during tough negotiations at UNBC.
In late January, UNBC food service workers were joined by students, faculty, and community allies in a protest action to demand that the university take responsibility for the low wages paid to Tim Hortons and cafeteria workers on campus. Despite months of negotiations, Compass Group, continues to offer wage and benefit increases that would leave some workers below the poverty line, while many long term workers earn less than $15 an hour.
See below for news coverage of our protest on CKPG News!
We are determined to keep fighting until we achieve a respectable settlement. Workers have recently gained significant improvements in medical benefits but remain far apart on wages. We have filed for mediation with the Labour Board and are calling for the University President to support our goals for a fair wage and job security. Students, faculty, staff, and other union members continue to demonstrate support and solidarity for UNBC cafeteria workers.