500 rally at Hyatt Regency Vancouver

doc_11Hyatt workers across North America marched, rallied and protested today to focus attention on Hyatt Corporation’s treatment of its employees. Here in Vancouver, Hyatt workers were joined by Westin Bayshore, Renaissance, Four Seasons, Delta Vancouver Airport and Hilton Metrotown workers who all have expiring contracts this month. Local 40 members from GM Place, Host, Cara, Coast Plaza and many HIR hotels also came out to support. Friends of Local 40–labour unions, community groups and elected officials–also joined in the boisterous rally and march that began at the Hyatt and ended at the Renaissance Hotel. On the steps of the Renaissance, workers from each of the GVHEA hotels spoke out to demand the hotel companies stop squeezing workers and cutting jobs while hotel company profits are increasing. Local 40 members made it loud and clear today: we’re ready to fight!

Thanks to all our friends at HEU, USW, COPE 378, CAW, BCTF, UFCW and CUPE for bringing your colours and spirit to our rally!

International Solidarity in Canada’s Capital!

Workers protest “fake” green initiatives at Toronto hotels

doc_12A report in today’s Toronto Star describes the “fake” green initiatives some hotels are employing to cut housekeepers’ jobs. The Sheraton Toronto Centre encourages guests to refuse housekeeping services under its “Green Choice Program,” claiming it will “conserve natural resources” and is better for the environment. In return, the hotel gives the guests who refuse housekeeping services a $5 drinks voucher. Housekeepers like Brigida Ruiz (pictured, right) say they up spending more time, using more energy and more chemicals cleaning rooms that have been left without housekeeping services for several days.

See the Toronto Star report for more details on the “fake” green programs.

This Friday, hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 75 hotel workers in Toronto are holding a public briefing in city council chambers at Toronto City Hall to kick off city-wide hotel negotiations.

Vancouver hotel workers in the GVHEA contract will also begin bargaining soon. The Hyatt, Westin Bayshore, Renaissance and Four Seasons contract expires on June 30. Delta Vancouver Airport and Hilton Metrotown contracts expire at the same time.

HIR hotel workers contract victory!

doc_142000 hotel workers in BC ratified a new union contract that includes a major victory in housekeeping workload improvements as well as a 6% wage increase, improved dental and vision benefits and a more than 30% increase in employer pension contributions.

Housekeepers played a key leadership role in bargaining the HIR contract. Their workload victory includes contract language that sets a fixed quota of rooms for the first time, and check-out room drop language.

The new HIR contract was ratified by a total of 83% of members in 60 hotels across the province.

Congratulations to all!

(Committee leaders from the Sheraton Vancouver Airport, Holiday Inn Downtown and Chateau Granville (pictured), along with rank and file leaders from many other HIR hotels worked hard to achieve the new contract. More workers participated in this contract campaign than any previous HIR bargaining. The new contract covers 60 hotels across the province.)

Coast Hotel workers in Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George and Victoria ratify new contract by 99%!

doc_13Coast Hotel workers across BC are celebrating a historic contract victory today. After months of organizing, mobilizing and hard work at the bargaining table, committee leaders in the Coast Bastion Inn-Nanaimo, Coast Harbourside Victoria, Coast Capri-Kelowna and Coast Inn of the North-Prince George can be proud of a new contract ratified by 99% of their co-workers.

Housekeepers won workload relief language for the first time, including a decreased room quota and room drops for traveling between floors. Banquet workers won gratuity protection (”transparency”) language for the first time in the contract.

All Coast workers won a significant wage increase, a 39% pension contribution increase and improved dental and vision benefits. Coast Hotel workers now have the same extended benefits as the downtown Vancouver hotels.

The Coast Master agreement ratified today covers 500 workers in 4 hotels.

Local 40 settled contracts for 3000 workers in 65 hotels and food service operations across British Columbia in the last 2 months.

Congratulations to all who worked so hard for these victories!

HMS Host workers at YVR ratify new contract by 98%

doc_15HMS Host workers at YVR overwhelmingly ratified a new union contract today by a vote of 98%. The Host workers won job security improvements in all units, a pathway for Milestones workers to transfer to the new White Spot restaurant, layoff and recall rights, significant wage gains, increased pension contributions and better union access at YVR.

Fipe Wong, a 13-year cook in Palominos, said, “I think we made history at the airport. At the end of the day, its not about the money. Its about the union and being united.”

After a one-day strike and a 6-day lockout, both HMS Host and union members engaged in tough bargaining, made necessary compromises and came away with an agreement in time for the Vancouver Airport’s busiest day ever, March 1.

Local 40 salutes the courage of the Host workers.

UNITE HERE’s Cleve Jones named Grand Marshal of 2009 Vancouver Pride Parade

doc_7Cleve Jones, leader of UNITE HERE’s Sleep with the Right People campaign, is back in Vancouver for this year’s Pride Parade on August 2. Cleve is a Grand Marshal of the 2009 Pride Parade in honour of his decades of activism and leadership in the LGBT community. Cleve got his start as a young activist working with the legendary gay rights leader, Harvey Milk, in San Francisco. In the 2008 Academy-award winning film, Milk, Cleve is portrayed as young man working closely with Milk. Cleve co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and created the idea for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, now the world’s largest piece of folk art. The Quilt memorializes 85,000 people killed by AIDS and currently weighs 54 tonnes.

Cleve currently leads UNITE HERE’s Sleep with the Right People campaign (sleepwiththerightpeople.org), a powerful alliance between the LGBT community and UNITE HERE, dedicated to fighting for the fair and equal treatment of all individuals.

Come join Local 40 members marching with Cleve in this year’s Pride Parade!

GM Place Contract Victory

doc_6The Local 40 organizing committee at GM Place left the bargaining table victorious in the early morning hours of March 20, 2009. GM Place workers won significant wage increases, real job security–including during the 2010 Olympics when GM Place becomes Hockey Place–more money for dental and a path toward future medical improvements. But most of all, they won real respect from the company. The key respect issue was expanding the women’s locker room at GM Place. Now, hundreds of women can change with dignity instead of squeezing like sardines into a cramped room.

The victory took months of organizing, bargaining without a contract, and an action plan: delegations to management, rallies and finally a one-day strike. But according to workers it came down to one important thing: the Committee. Leaders from every department joined the Organizing Committee to lead their co-workers through the fight. Brad McLean, a catering server for 13 years and shop steward, said one of the most powerful moments was a delegation to the general manager. “The first time, there was a only a few of us, ” he said, referring to an early delegation the group organized, “but then when you turn around and you realize there are 200 of your co-workers behind you, it feels good!”

Evelyn Cabangbang, a cashier for 10 years, knows how far GM Place workers have come. “Two years ago, they thought I was crazy for getting involved, but now they see, they respect what I did…It all comes down to unity. Don’t be afraid to stand up and fight. Just do it!”