Press Release: Richmond hotel strikers injured, narrowly avoiding shuttle van crash

Richmond, BC – Striking Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport Hotel workers suffered injuries when they narrowly escaped being run over by a shuttle driver who suddenly drove through the bushes behind the hotel and crashed into two other vehicles yesterday afternoon.

An Ace Charters Vancouver shuttle van, which was parked in the employee parking lot of the Radisson Blu hotel at the time, lurched suddenly through the bushes behind the hotel, crashed into a second vehicle, and careened forward across Lysander Lane until it hit a third car parked at a nearby charging station.

Three female hotel room attendants who are on strike at Radisson Blu were walking along the sidewalk of Lysander Lane when they heard a noise and saw the vehicles coming toward them.  They ran to avoid being struck but suffered injuries.  One of the strikers fell to the ground to avoid the oncoming vehicles. A second woman was injured when one of the vehicles grazed her ankle.  The two women went to hospital for examination; the third woman was unharmed. The RCMP and an ambulance were called to the scene.

“We heard a loud noise and saw a car coming from the bushes. We ran as fast as we could.  A big black car came toward me, and the tire hit my ankle. It was so scary, we didn’t know what to do,” said Vent Reddy, a striking room attendant who has worked at the hotel for over forty years.

“What happened here was reckless and put workers’ lives at risk.  Why is Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport allowing Ace Charters to park their vehicles in the hotel employees’ parking area during a strike?  Ace Charters could have killed someone.  They should no longer be allowed to operate out of the Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport Hotel,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

Last month, the BC Labour Board issued a cease and desist order against the Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport’s majority owner for threatening and intimidating strikers on the picket line. The hotel has repeatedly breached the labour code by using impermissible replacement workers. The workers have been on strike for three years.

 

Contact: Michelle Travis, mtravis@unitehere.org, 778-960-9875

Press Release: Low-wage women of colour lose out under YVR Airport’s living wage policy, according to new report 

Hundreds of airport concession workers not covered by airport living wage policy

Vancouver – YVR Airport’s living wage policy should be expanded to cover low-wage airport concession workers who serve travelers inside the terminals of Canada’s top airport, according to a new report.

Airport concession workers are among the lowest paid workers at YVR Airport.  Eighty percent (80%) of them are women of colour, many of them immigrants, who earn far below Metro Vancouver’s living wage of $25.68, according to a new report, Who Deserves a Living Wage at YVR Airport, by UNITE HERE Local 40.  The airport is a certified living wage employer, yet the average hourly wage for concession staff is $18.27, or $7.41 less than the airport living wage.

Roughly 2,500 out of the nearly 30,000 workers at the airport and on Sea Island are covered by YVR Airport’s living wage policy.  The existing policy covers over 900 Vancouver Airport Authority employees, the majority of whom are male and predominantly white. The policy also covers certain contractors, including those providing janitorial and security services inside the terminals and traffic management services.  The policy does not extend to airport concession staff, such as cashiers, attendants, servers, cooks, dishwashers, and others who work behind the food and retail counters a few floors down from Vancouver Airport Authority offices in the same building.

As YVR Airport’s revenues have largely recovered from the pandemic, the pay gap between Vancouver Airport Authority’s top executives and concession workers has widened.  Airport Authority CEO Tamara Vrooman earned a total compensation package of $2.2 million, up from $1.9 million the previous year, while the average full-time concession worker earned $36,000 in annual pay. The pay ratio between the Airport Authority’s CEO and an average full-time airport concession worker is 59:1, an income gap that grew last year.

Nearly 89% of concession workers surveyed reported that they are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. Over half, or 53%, reported having to cut back on family support for their immediate or extended family. Others reported cutting back on fresh food and medical care. Thirty percent (30%) of workers reported working more than one job.

Workers also cited having to cut back on transit costs. Vancouver Airport Authority terminated its transit reimbursement policy earlier this year which subsidized transit for those who work outside regular transit hours.

Airport concession workers have been actively advocating for a $25 living wage recently. This month, workers from YVR dining outlets operated by SSP Group issued 72-hour strike notice over concerns that wages need to be significantly raised to afford the cost of living.

A worker from an A&W airport outlet operated by MGM Food Services was terminated after she signed a petition calling for a $25 airport living wage and encouraged co-workers to sign. During a meeting, an MGM manager asked employees if they signed the petition and discovered that the worker had done so. Two weeks later, management fired the worker telling her she was “not a good fit for the company” despite having worked there for nearly for two years with no issues. The petition was signed by nearly 2,000 people and sent to the Airport Authority CEO.

“Vancouver Airport Authority should extend its living wage policy to cover the lowest paid workers at YVR Airport, most of them immigrant women, who provide an essential role at our airport.  While airport workers are struggling to stay afloat in an incredibly unaffordable city, YVR’s airport executives are doing better than ever.  No worker should fear losing their job because they demand a living wage. The Airport Authority has the power to do more to ensure workers can work with dignity and fair pay at YVR Airport,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

To address economic inequality at YVR Airport, the report recommends that Vancouver Airport Authority:

  • Implement a $25 living wage policy for airport concession staff who earn less than a living wage.
  • Terminate contracts with operators who discriminate or violate the fundamental rights of workers.
  • Bring back the YVR transit reimbursement program for airport workers arriving or departing work outside regular transit hours.

 

Media Contact: Michelle Travis, mtravis@unitehere.org, 778-960-9785.

Press Release – Turkish Airlines Shuttle Driver Runs Over Picketing Hotel Worker

Richmond, BC, Canada — “Last night, shuttle drivers for Turkish Airline crews hit one of our members, a hotel worker picketing outside the Hilton Vancouver Airport hotel.  We are outraged by the callous disregard shown for hotel workers fighting for a living wage.  Not only was our member struck twice, once in the torso by one car and, again, over his foot by a second shuttle car, other picketers were nearly struck due to drivers’ aggressive recklessness,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

 

The drivers departed the scene before police arrived.

 

For months, workers on strike at Sheraton Vancouver Airport, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, have repeatedly urged Turkish Airlines and the union which represents the flight crews, the Turkish Civil Aviation Union, to stop sending their flight crews to stay behind a picket line at the Hilton YVR hotel in Richmond, Canada.

 

Larco Hospitality operates the Sheraton, Hilton, and Marriott Vancouver Airport hotels, which form British Columbia’s largest hotel complex. The hotels regularly accommodate flight crews landing at YVR Airport, including those of Turkish Airlines. Since Sheraton Vancouver Airport hotel workers launched their strike for living wages, six airlines have withdrawn their business from the hotel complex.

 

Contact: Michelle Travis, mtravis@unitehere.org, 1+ 778 960-9785

Press Release – BREAKING: West End Tenants File Class Action Lawsuit Against Prominent Landlord Over Housing Safety

Residents report serious health concerns, seek damages for harm caused by poor air quality

 

Vancouver, BC – Yesterday, West End tenants filed a class action lawsuit in BC Supreme Court against their landlord, Larco Investments. The plaintiffs – representing current and former occupants of Regency Park Residences at 1225 Cardero Street – allege Larco Investments negligently caused harm to them by knowingly failing to provide and maintain proper ventilation and clean air in the building for the past nine years. The tenants are seeking a declaration that Larco Investments was negligent in failing to protect the health and safety of their tenants, and an order that Larco must pay damages for the mental and physical harm caused by their actions.

 

This spring, twenty-seven written testimonies by tenants of Regency Park were submitted to the City of Vancouver reporting multiple issues with air quality and ventilation in the building. On March 4, a city inspector confirmed multiple heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) building code violations at Regency Park. The tenants have suffered from serious health affects – such as chronic bronchitis, sleep apnea, and migraines – that they say may be caused by indoor air pollution in their homes.

 

One of the plaintiffs, Aissa Aggoune, a long-term resident of Regency Park, has fought for improvements in the HVAC system in the building since 2015. According to the lawsuit, building occupants experience no airflow, leading to dampness, mold and smell. Despite continually informing the landlord of these serious issues, they have not been resolved.

 

“The tenants and their children living at 1225 Cardero have been breathing in polluted air for the past nine years,” said Aissa Aggoune, resident of Regency Park for 17 years. “Enforcement is needed to ensure Larco makes the necessary building repairs, so the 200 plus families of Regency Park have safe and healthy homes, and can live in dignity.”

 

This is the second group of tenants raising issues with Larco. Tenants of Fontainebleau Apartments (5455 Balsam Street) held a rally against Larco rezoning their building in October 2023. The rezoning application is currently pending approval by the City of Vancouver. Those tenants complained of lack of heating in their building.

 

Larco Investments is owned by the Lalji family, one of the wealthiest families in Canada. They hold a large portfolio of real estate including Park Royal shopping centre, Maple Leaf Storage, and hotels, including the Sheraton Vancouver Airport where workers have been on strike for nearly a year in their fight for a living wage.

 

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Media Contact: Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, mtravis@unitehere.org

Job Posting: We’re Hiring a Communications Specialist!

UNITE HERE Local 40 Job Posting: Communications Specialist/Campaigner (FT)

UNITE HERE is a progressive labour union, dedicated to creating greater equality and opportunity for workers in the hospitality industry. Communications Specialists are embedded in local worker campaigns and play a crucial role in designing comprehensive communications strategies using digital platforms, earned media and multi-media tools to raise the visibility of worker struggles. As a Communications Specialist/Campaigner with UNITE HERE Local 40, you will be part of a team that empowers people in low-wage service sector jobs to achieve better wages and benefits, dignity and basic rights at work.

Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Collaborating with union leadership to develop, plan and lead communications strategies that support workers’ organizing and contract campaigns and analyzing effectiveness of strategies to improve campaigns.
  • Creating messaging and designing materials for effective communication with multiple audiences, including union members, allies, news media, and the general public.
  • Designing leaflets, materials, and social media content.
  • Planning and implementing earned media outreach, including pitching news stories, organizing media events, and training union members to be spokespersons.
  • Writing, editing and/or producing member communications, newsletters, websites, videos, news releases, opinion editorials, fact sheets, and social media posts.
  • Adapting written and visual materials for effective use on multiple platforms, including social media, digital advertising, email and petition platforms, and other media.
  • Managing Local 40’s website and social media accounts and regularly creating engaging content and posting to various platforms.
  • Documenting member events and actions, including taking photos and video, and using content in engagement tools and social media platforms.

Job Requirements/Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and the fight for workers’ rights.
  • Relevant experience in organizing campaigns, campaign communications, graphic design, and/or media relations.
  • BA degree or relevant work experience, with a minimum of one-year experience working in communications.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the capacity to meaningfully engage with and frame issues for people of diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
  • Proven ability to effectively manage a workload with competing priorities and deadlines in a fast-paced environment.
  • Ability and willingness to travel and work long or irregular hours during times of critical campaign need.
  • Proactive, self-starter who enjoys working cooperatively with staff and members.
  • Experience with digital engagement and creatively using social media platforms and other engagement tools for campaigns.
  • Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite or other graphic design software.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office or Google Business Suite.
  • Experience with creative media production in one more of the following areas: web development, photography, and/or video production/editing, a plus.
  • Valid driver’s license.

Salary starts at $60,000 but commensurate with experience and skills. 

To apply for this position: please email your resume, cover letter and a sample of your work (or a link to a website portfolio of your work) to mtravis@unitehere.org.