UNITE HERE! Canada Responds to COVID-19 Crisis

On March 30, 2020, UNITE HERE leadership from across Canada held a tele-press conference to speak on the unprecedented economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on workers nationwide. Listen to a complete recording of the conference. For press coverage, see below:

Canadian PressHospitality workers ‘hit first and hit hardest’ says union seeking more support

CTV Vancouver (with video) – Hospitality workers call for financial support in face of mass layoffs

CBC – Hospitality workers’ union says 90% of members have lost their jobs in past 2 weeks

News1130 – BC hospitality workers’ union calls government wage subsidy approach a ‘bailout for businesses’

CTV Toronto Nearly 90% of hospitality workers will lose jobs because of covid-19 pandemic, union predicts

Global News – COVID-19: Hospitality union offers help as hotels considered as makeshift hospitals

Victoria News – Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TELE-PRESS CONFERENCE (for Monday, March 30)

RSVP: https://forms.gle/oLF7jfgZyDVfQ5Ls7

Hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE to host tele-press conference on impact of COVID-19 on industry’s frontline workers in Canada

WHAT: Tele-press conference with UNITE HERE Canada union leadership to discuss the unprecedented economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on workers nationwide in industries as diverse as hotels, stadiums, airlines and food service. With mortgages, utilities and rent coming due April 1, UNITE HERE Canada calls on public officials to take immediate action to ensure that hospitality workers, like all Canadian workers, can continue to live and pay their bills, and that those still working are recognized as essential employees.

WHO:
• Ian Robb, UNITE HERE Local 47 President and UNITE HERE Canadian Director
• Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40 President, Vancouver
• Guled Warsame, UNITE HERE Local 75 President, Toronto
• Kevin Porter, UNITE HERE Local 272 President, Ottawa

WHEN: Monday, March 30 at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT

WHERE: Media must RSVP for call-in information. RSVP here: https://forms.gle/oLF7jfgZyDVfQ5Ls7

WHY: UNITE HERE represents over 18,000 hotel and hospitality workers across six locals in Canada. Hospitality workers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis from day one.  Their work – cleaning rooms and public places, cooking and serving food, welcoming guests, carrying bags – puts them in daily contact with the public and in areas with very high risk of viral transmission.

Their workplaces – hotels, casinos, airports, arenas, universities, schools and remote resource camps – are among the first and worst hit by closures and layoffs. The Hotel Association of Canada estimates that 80 to 90 percent of the nation’s hotel industry will close this year. That means 200,000 to 250,000 hotel workers are losing jobs, the majority of them women, single parents, immigrants and people of color.

UNITE HERE Canada leadership will provide updates on the industry, call for immediate solutions, and take questions.

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UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents over 300,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in North America. UNITE HERE represents over 18,000 hotel and hospitality workers across six locals in Canada.

Message from President Zailda Chan to Local 40 Members

Dear UNITE HERE Local 40 members,

The COVID-19 global health pandemic is impacting all workers in the hospitality industry in ways that none of us would have ever imagined. With the drastic downturn of tourism, border closures and public health measures, I know a majority of UNITE HERE Local 40’s members working across British Columbia in airports, hotels, food service and camps are facing economic hardships never experienced before. In a matter of weeks, expenses like paying for our rent, mortgage, car, utilities and food have become inconceivable.

But we are in this together.  We need to stick together just as we have in the past when the employer has wanted to offer us very little for a contract or fighting unfair treatment. As a union, UNITE HERE will not sit quietly during this crisis. We plan to demand and work on all fronts to make sure hospitality workers are receiving the support they need to get through this period. We are in communication with employers and government officials to discuss how we minimize the impact on you and your families.

In the meantime, we have posted information on our website to address your immediate questions about Employment Insurance, Local 40 medical benefits and other information.

Employment Insurance

To answer any questions you may have about your eligibility for EI benefits, please click here.  If you have additional questions about EI, send Local 40 an email at [email protected] or text to 604-813-2105.

Union Health Benefits

Local 40 is reaching out to employers about extending your medical coverage to protect you and your family.  Click here for answers to questions you have about health benefits.  For updates on your health benefits, please text “Local40” to 393939.

Job Opportunities for Local 40 Members

Local 40 has been working with Compass Group to allow for Local 40 members to be offered positions IMMEDIATELY in area hospitals as casual cleaning employees throughout B.C.  Click here to learn more.

Other Assistance

There has been a flurry of announcements regarding financial assistance from various levels of government to workers in need of support.  Check here for ongoing updates on our website.

For Members Who are Working

We want to make sure that members who are working during this time are safe and provided with proper training and safety gear.  No one should have to choose between income and protecting their health.  If you have any concerns about health and safety at your workplace, please contact your organizer or workplace committee contact.

Regular Communications with Local 40 Members

This week, Local 40 held a conference call with over 150 committee members representing workplaces across the province to provide updates.  We will continue to update members regularly.  If you have questions about your workplace, please contact your organizer or committee person.  And if you have family and friends working in hospitality and food service who need assistance, they are welcome to contact us as well at [email protected].

Now more than ever, we need to work together as we will go much further together than on our own. 

In solidarity,

Zailda Chan

President

 

COVID-19: Government & Community Resources

UNITE HERE Local 40:
Quick Links:
Federal Resources:
  • Employment Insurance (Service Canada):  To apply for EI, click here.
  • Concerns regarding your Record of Employment (ROE): If you are applying for EI and are having difficulty obtaining your ROE, collect as many pay stubs as possible and a T-4 form as an alternative. You can ask EI to create an Interim ROE.
  • Recent Announcements: For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:
    • Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.
    • Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate (doctor’s note) to access EI sickness benefits.
  • New Benefit Announced: Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): The federal government has just announced that the CERB will replace two emergency programs announced previously. This is a  new benefit offering $2,000/month for up to four months. The new benefit is open to those who have lost their job, those who are sick or quarantined, parents staying home without pay to care for children, and those who have no income due to the COVID-19 slowdown but haven’t been laid off yet.  Anyone who made $5,000 in the last year and has been off for 14 days may apply.  It doesn’t matter if you are eligible for EI or not.  However, you cannot use both EI and the CERB. The federal government will open applications on April 6.
  • EI Work Sharing Program: The Government is implementing this program which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process. This was announced by the Prime Minister on March 11, 2020.

Other Federal Assistance:

  • Child Care Benefit: For families who require additional support, the Government is proposing to increase the maximum Child Care Benefit by $300 per child this year only.
  • Doubling the GST Tax Credit for modest income families: $400 for single adults; $600 for couples
  • Student debt: Placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.
  • Tax filing: For individuals, the federal tax return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.
  • Home Mortgage: The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately. Other special payment arrangements may be available.
Provincial Resources:
  • B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers: A one time $1,000 payment for those who have lost income because of COVID-19. This is for B.C. residents who receive E.I. or the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Applications for the one-time payment will open soon.  The payment will be paid in May 2020.
  • Rental Supplement: The Province will help households by offering up to $500 a month towards their rent. The rent will be paid directly to landlords on tenant’s behalf. The supplement will be available to those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis but who do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.  Applications are NOT yet open.  Check here in early April for  more details.
  • Halting Evictions: a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.
  • Halting Enforcement of Evictions: Halts eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch, except in extreme cases.
  • Freeze on Annual Rent Increase: Effective as of April 1.
  • Freeze on B.C. Student Loans: Starting March 30, 2020, B.C. student loan payments are automatically frozen for six months until September 30, 2020.
  • Transit: BC Transit Fares & Passes are not required.
  • ICBC: Customers on a monthly plan facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer payment up to 90 days with no penalty. See: https://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/contact-us/Pages/covid-19.aspx
  • BC Hydro introduced a COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program for customers e xperiencing hardship during the coronavirus outbreak which provides customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Customers are encouraged to call BC Hydro at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss bill payment options. Customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay their bills.
Local/Municipal Resources:
  • Property tax payments delayed: The City of Vancouver has announced that property tax payments will be deferred for 60 days.
Community Resources:

6 Month Interest-Free Line of Credit: Community Savings Credit Union is offering a line of credit up to $2,500 to Union Members who have been laid off or facing reduced hours due to COVID-19.  This is being offered to members and non-members of the credit union.  Non-members will be asked to join the credit union to obtain the credit line.  For more information, go to https://www.comsavings.com/Personal/AboutUs/Helping%20Hands/

Job Opportunities for Local 40 Members!

Local 40 has been working with Compass Group to allow for Local 40 members to be offered positions IMMEDIATELY in area hospitals as casual cleaning employees.

Casual Employees needed at the following locations: Vancouver Metro Area, Squamish, Comox, Campbell River, Whistler, Saanich, Victoria, Nanaimo, Sechelt, Powell River.

Pay Rates vary slightly but start at $17.10 per hour for approximately 40 hours per week and possibly Overtime.

Compass will continue to pay for your Local 40 Health Care Benefits.

You will become a member of HEU and pay Union Dues equal to 2.1% of monthly earnings plus a $5 Initiation Fee.

Compass will provide TRAINING so that you are able to perform your duties safely.

If you are interested in pursuing these job opportunities, please click here.

Statement from UNITE HERE Local 40 President Zailda Chan re: COVID-19 Impact on Hospitality Workers

For Immediate Release:

Over 60,000 B.C. hospitality workers are reeling from the blunt economic trauma hitting our industry due to the spread of the new coronavirus.  In the span of one week, our members and tens of thousands other hospitality workers in hotels, restaurants and food service workers who prepare meals for airlines, airport travelers, universities and resource camps have lost work, are going on long-term layoffs and are now at risk of losing their medical coverage, which is based on hours worked.  The loss of income is abrupt and painful.  And during a life-threatening global pandemic, the average hospitality worker, many of whom are women with children to support, cannot afford to also lose their medical coverage.

During this time of uncertainty, our members are pulling together to get through one of the greatest challenges our industry has ever faced.  What is missing is a commitment from hospitality employers to ensure their employees do not lose medical benefits during this unprecedented public health crisis.  Without that promise, hotel and food service workers with reduced hours or lost pay will not be able to afford prescription medicine for themselves or their family members if they become sick or exposed to COVID-19.  While we are working with a few employers who are stepping up to make sure their employees do not face a medical care gap at this critical time, too many employers are leaving hospitality workers in the lurch.

Take, for example, the hotel industry.  In Vancouver alone, thousands of hotel workers are employed by the world’s largest hotel operators in hotels owned by some of the wealthiest developers in Canada.  Until very recently, B.C.’s hotel industry enjoyed years of record revenues for much of the last decade – in part thanks to the dedicated work of union and non-union hotel workers alike.  Today, hotel companies may soon be in line asking for government assistance and other forms of tax relief.  Will employers be expected to extend medical coverage to their employees in exchange for government assistance?

While we are relieved to see federal and provincial levels of government grapple with the vast needs facing Canadian workers right now, we anticipate additional measures will be required to stem the drastic loss of jobs and income faced by workers in hospitality and other sectors of the economy.  We also urgently need employers in the industry to collaborate with us and protect the health of hospitality workers.  They can ensure workers maintain medical coverage during this crisis and help fill the gap that government is not yet prepared to fill.

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

COVID-19 UPDATE: UNION HEALTH BENEFITS FAQ

To download a PDF of this information, please click here.

 

How long will my Union Health Benefits last if I’ve been laid off?

All of our union members have different eligibility depending on your workplace. Please call Member Service Centre between 9am and 430pm at 604-294-4441, state your first and last name and your workplace. They will tell you if you’ve been laid off how long your current medical benefits will last.

For most employees that have been working for an average of 30-40 hours per week for the past 3-4 months, your health care benefits will continue through the end of April, or beyond.

Again, to check on your health care coverage, please contact:

Local 40 Hospitality Industry Member Service Centre

c/o Morneau

2nd Floor—411 Dunsmuir Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1X4

 

Hours of Operation: 9am to 5pm

Local Phone: 604-294-4441

Toll Free Phone: 1-800-661-2766

Fax: 604-632-9930

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.myhealthandpension.hroffice.com

What if I have health care benefits through my Employer and not through the Union?

You should contact your Employer and ask if they’ll be extending your health benefits and for how long. You should also speak to your Union Representative and Department committee member about how to pressure your Employer to do the right thing.

 

Do I have to pay Union Dues if I am laid off to keep my Health Benefits?

No. If you are laid off, you will not pay Union Dues regardless of your medical coverage.  You will be put on a withdrawal card and your health care coverage will continue as described above.

 

Will my Union Health Benefits be extended beyond my current eligibility?

Local 40 believes all Employers should be extending medical benefits in this time of crisis. Some employers across North America have already committed to extend medical benefits and we will be calling on all of our B.C. Employers to do the same. Local 40 and Union Committee members will be discussing how to ensure employers extend medical benefits soon.

 

If you would like updates on health benefits, please text Local40 to 393939.

If you have an issue that is NOT being addressed by the Member Service Centre, please contact [email protected].

COVID-19 UPDATE: For Workers Who Need to Apply for Employment Insurance

APPLYING FOR EI

Note: Benefits under Employment Insurance and other benefit programs are changing quickly as the situation with COVID-19/Coronavirus develops. This document reflects changes through March 17, 2020.

(Click here for a PDF Version of this information)

 

Am I eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)?

To qualify for regular benefits you must have received no work at all for a period of at least seven days.

You must have worked at least the following number of hours in the last 52 weeks to qualify for EI:

Vancouver Metro Area and Victoria-700 hours

Chilliwack/Harrison Hot Springs-630 hours

Kelowna/Kamloops-665 hours

Northern BC (Prince Rupert/Kitimat/Terrace/Prince George)-525 hours

 

Didn’t the Federal Government waive the 7-day waiting period?

As of now, the waiting period is ONLY waived for those that are self-quarantined as a result of the Corona Virus.

For all others the waiting period is still 7 days.

 

How much will I receive?

EI will pay out up to 55% of your regular wages, tips, bonuses, and commissions, to a maximum of $573 per week. Only amounts you have declared on your taxes will qualify.

You are entitled to between 14 and 45 weeks of benefits, depending on how many hours you have worked during the qualifying period and where you are employed.

 

How do I apply and what do I need to show?

Apply online on Service Canada’s website here:

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html

Call 1-800-206-7218 Monday-Friday 830am to 430pm PST and press 0 to speak with a representative.

You will be required to provide:

  • Names and addresses of employers, employment dates, and reason you’re no longer employed for all employers in the last 52 weeks;
  • Your full mailing address and home address, Social Insurance Number, and mother’s maiden name; and,
  • Your banking information including direct deposit information.

If you have not received your Record of Employment from your employer check Service Canada’s online website as they may have uploaded it. If not follow up with your employer – not having a Record of Employment may delay your claim.

If you are applying for EI benefits on the basis that you have been quarantined for a two-week period you will not be required to produce a medical certificate or medical note to apply and have your claim approved. However you may be required to prove you qualified at a later date, or to extend your benefits beyond the two-week quarantine period.

 

What if I work another job while receiving regular benefits?

You are still allowed to apply for and collect EI, but you may receive less.

 

How long will I have to wait to receive my benefits?

Service Canada says that it may take up to 28 days to receive your first payment. But it could be sooner.

If you are under quarantine you should call the EI Coronavirus line after applying online to attempt to have their claim prioritized. The EI Coronavirus line can be reached at 1-833-381-2725.

 

Do I have to use vacation time or sick time before I apply for EI benefits?

NO! It is your choice whether you want to use your vacation or sick time first.

 

What if I am not diagnosed with COVID-19 or ordered into quarantine by a doctor or nurse but my employer has told me to be in self-isolation?

The Federal Government has indicated that individuals in self-isolation will be eligible for EI sick benefits for a two-week period.  Employees in this situation are advised to contact the EI Coronavirus line at 1-833-381-2725 for further information.

 

What do I have to do to remain entitled?

If you are receiving EI benefits you must to update Service Canada immediately if your situation changes and you must follow reporting requirements.

You must submit reports every two weeks by the internet or telephone while receiving EI benefits. These reports include information about any earnings you had during the period, training you received, and your availability for work.

If you are receiving regular benefits you must look for employment and keep a record of who you have contacted and where you have applied for work.

 

What if I’m still getting some minimum hours but haven’t been laid off?

The Union is looking in to the possibility of taking advantage of the Government of Canada’s “Work Sharing” Program, which allows for partial EI to be collected. We will update you as we learn more.

 

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

Contact Local 40:

[email protected] or

TEXT 604-813-2105

 

2020 Membership Meetings!