Press Release: Hilton Vancouver Metrotown to Lose Millions More in 2022 if Labour Dispute with Locked Out Hotel Workers Not Resolved by End of June

Vancouver, B.C.— Major BC unions are upping the ante on its boycott and threatening to lock Hilton Metrotown out of any business in 2022 unless the hotel settles the labour dispute with its locked out workers by June 30. At a press conference today, UNITE HERE Local 40 and BCGEU joined Hilton Vancouver Metrotown hotel workers on the picket line to announce the new pledge which will go into effect if the hotel fails to resolve the dispute this month.

 

This unprecedented move by prominent union customers could cost the hotel up to $2 million next year—in addition to lost business this year—if Hilton Metrotown fails to resolve the lockout and commit to reinstate workers fired during the pandemic.

 

In early April, major union customers pledged to withhold their business until the Hilton Metrotown guaranteed workers a right to return to their jobs. Hotel management locked out workers on April 15 after firing 97 long-term workers. Burnaby City Council also adopted a resolution to support Hilton Metrotown workers and withdraw business from the hotel. Now, unions have decided that if the Hilton Metrotown does not reinstate the terminated workers and resolve the labour dispute by June 30, 2021, they will relocate their business for the entire calendar year of 2022.

 

Robert Demand, Executive Director of UNITE HERE Local 40: “Hilton Metrotown workers have been locked out for six weeks, and the hotel has yet to demonstrate a willingness to resolve the lockout or commit to reinstate their long-term workers.  Our members are relentlessly fighting back. Thanks to BCGEU and our other strong union allies who have agreed to this new pledge which escalates the boycott to make sure the hotel returns workers to their jobs. Other hotel employers considering the path that Hilton Metrotown has taken should think again.”

Stephanie Smith, President of BCGEU: “The way the Hilton Metrotown has treated Unite Here members during the COVID-19 pandemic is despicable. As BC’s restart plan moves ahead no one should be okay with hotel workers being left behind. Before the pandemic the BCGEU spent $500,000 dollars each year at the Hilton Metrotown and we would have been booking again as soon as the restrictions were lifted but we will not support a business that mistreats workers. On behalf of the 82,000 members of the BCGEU, I urge the Hilton Metrotown to get back to the table, negotiate a fair deal, and bring these workers back to their jobs once the pandemic is over.”

Sergio Moyer, locked out Guest Services lead: “It’s unbelievable the depths to which Hilton Metrotown has gone to get rid of my co-workers who have dedicated their lives to building this hotel. For management to still lock us out for this long despite many customers moving to other hotels, including Lufthansa, is an all-time low. That’s why we’ve decided to escalate the boycott with this new pledge. I’m grateful to BCGEU and my union siblings for standing beside us in this fight – together, we will continue to fight back until the Hilton Metrotown returns workers back to their jobs.”

 

Currently, BCGEU, CUPE BC, HEU, MoveUp, BCTF, PSAC BC, CUPE BC, UFCW 1518, IBEW Local 258, BC Insulators Local 118, Boilermakers Lodge 359, and Brewery Winery and Distillery Workers Local 300 have joined the pledge.

 

Hilton Metrotown’s treatment of its long-term staff is part of a broader industry attack on hotel workers. Hotel employers across BC have used mass pandemic firings to roll back decades of economic gains made by hotel workers, disproportionately impacting women and immigrants.

 

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.

 

 

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: UNITE HERE Local 40 and BCGEU to Hold Press Conference; Major BC Unions Vow to Boycott Hilton Vancouver Metrotown through 2022 Unless Hotel Settles Labour Dispute by end of June

Vancouver, B.C.— Today, on Thursday June 3rd, union leaders alongside locked out Hilton Vancouver Metrotown hotel workers will hold a press conference announcing a new pledge that will see large unions vowing to boycott Hilton Metrotown for the entire year of 2022, causing an estimated loss of $2 million annually for the hotel. Previously, unions such as BCGEU, HEU, and MoveUp, pledged to withhold their business until the Hilton Metrotown guaranteed workers a right to return to their jobs. Hotel management locked out workers on April 15 after firing 97 long-term workers. Now, as workers enter the 7th week of the lockout, unions have decided that if the Hilton Metrotown does not reinstate the terminated workers and resolve the labour dispute by June 30, 2021, they will relocate their business for the entire calendar year of 2022. So far, 11 unions have joined the pledge, indicating a potentially devastating financial hit for the hotel.

 

WHO:              Union leaders of UNITE HERE Local 40 and BCGEU, and locked out Hilton Metrotown workers.
WHERE:         6083 McKay Ave, Burnaby, BC

 

WHEN:            Thursday, June 3, 11 a.m.

 

VISUALS:     Hotel workers and allies wearing masks standing 2 metres apart, chanting and speaking with colourful banners, signs, and bullhorns.

 

Media availability with union leaders of UNITE HERE Local 40 and BCGEU, and Hilton Metrotown 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.

 

Press Release: Hotel Worker Reports Discrimination on the Basis of Sex and Race at Federal Quarantine Site

Human rights complaint filed against Pacific Gateway Hotel

Vancouver, B.C. — In response to mass firings at Pacific Gateway, a federal quarantine facility, a hotel housekeeper has filed a human rights complaint against the hotel on behalf of herself and 89 other women for sex and racial discrimination. The complaint alleges that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, terminations at the hotel disparately impacted women, and women of colour, while men’s jobs were more likely to be protected.  

Women, especially women of colour, were disproportionately impacted by Pacific Gateway’s actions, according to the complaint. The federal quarantine hotel fired 142 workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those fired, 90 are women and the majority of them are racialized. Pacific Gateway also terminated 90% of their housekeeping staff, which is overwhelmingly female. While hotel management targeted women workers, they disproportionately protected men’s jobs. The impact of the firings culminated in 74% of all women in the workplace being terminated, while proportionally more men were retained. With more terminations imminent this August, Pacific Gateway is on track to reduce the representation of women in its workforce by almost 20%. 

Pacific Gateway was taken over by the federal government for use as a quarantine site last year after the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The Trudeau government displaced laid-off hotel workers, primarily hotel housekeepers, when they contracted out housekeeping to the Red Cross. The federal quarantine hotel refuses to return workers to their jobs when the pandemic passes.

“What my hotel did to me and my co-workers was racist and sexist. The Pacific Gateway has taken advantage of the pandemic to get rid of long-term women workers – many of us women who immigrated to Canada. We made this hotel successful. I raised my kids on this job. Is this what our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls a feminist recovery?” said Kiranjit Dhillon, a fired Pacific Gateway housekeeper who served the hotel for 17 years.

The complaint filed on behalf of the women is seeking reinstatement of all group members to their jobs at Pacific Gateway, compensation for lost wages and injury to dignity, an order against the hotel to stop the discrimination and an admission of their discriminatory behaviour, and steps taken to address racism and sexism at the hotel. This complaint comes after Pacific Gateway workers went on strike in early May. UNITE HERE Local 40 represents workers at the hotel.

For additional information, please contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected], Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [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.

NEW REPORT: Federal Government Subsidies Reward Hotel Industry Intent on Shedding Staff, Undercuts Pathway to “Feminist Recovery”

UNITE HERE Canada                                                                                                                                                          For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                      May 24, 2021

VANCOUVER – Hotel workers who lost their jobs due to pandemic firings were not helped by the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and may not benefit from the Liberal Government’s new federal hiring subsidy, the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP), proposed in the 2021 Budget.  Instead, federal subsidies may reward bad corporate behaviour as they bypass hard-hit hospitality workers, primarily women and people of colour, according to a new report by UNITE HERE Canada, Inhospitable: How Hotel Employers Take Government Relief and Leave Workers out in the Cold.

Despite hotel industry pleas for government subsidies and other economic relief to save workers’ jobs, hotel employers have shed much of their staff anyway.  With unprecedented levels of job loss in the sector, the report questions why employers who failed to use CEWS to keep their workforce intact, or who eliminated much of their staff rather than commit to retain them, should be eligible for the new hiring subsidy.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the new hiring subsidy, CRHP, along with a proposed extension of CEWS during her budget speech. The Liberal government is proposing to extend CEWS with a new clawback provision for publicly traded companies that increase executive pay while using the program.  However, there are no clawbacks proposed for private companies who abuse CEWS.  It is unclear whether there will be any restrictions or clawbacks for companies that abuse the federal hiring subsidy.

The report provides a list of hotels like Pacific Gateway, currently a federal quarantine site, Sheraton Ottawa, Hilton Vancouver Metrotown and others that tapped CEWS, terminated staff or have not committed to bring workers back.  Many of the owners – real estate developers, wealthy investors, and large private corporations – are seeking drastic economic rollbacks from workers. Some of these hotel owners could be eligible for the new hiring subsidy.

While Minister Freeland has centered the 2021 budget as a feminist economic response to the COVID-crisis, the government is offering public subsidies to hotel employers who undercut the ability of its largely female and racialized workforce to participate in an inclusive recovery.  The hotel industry has lobbied for relief in the name of protecting workers’ jobs to secure CEWS extensions, the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), and the new CRHP.

Across the border, other government bodies are taking proactive steps to help workers retain their jobs.  The report points to several U.S. jurisdictions, including the State of California, that have adopted “worker recall” laws that will allow workers affected by the pandemic to return to their jobs as the work becomes available again.

To ensure hotel workers are included in the economic recovery, the report recommends the federal government: 1) design the CRHP so that it is directed to employers who rehire their staff before hiring outside replacements; 2) expand CEWS clawbacks to cover private employers who use mass pandemic firings to replace and undermine workers economic security, and 3) work with provinces to explore worker recall protections for workers who experienced job loss due to the pandemic.

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Contacts:

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

Daniel Janvier, [email protected], 647-410-5862

Press Release: Workers testify before House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, Urge Federal Government to Stop Subsidizing Pacific Gateway Hotel

Vancouver, BC – Hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, were invited to testify before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on Friday. They urged the Government to live up to its promise of a feminist recovery and stop spending public money at Pacific Gateway Hotel, which has operated as a federal quarantine site since last year.

The Government has not disclosed how much they are paying the hotel, which recently fired over 140 workers.  Nearly two-thirds of those fired are women.  The Government displaced some of the workers when they brought in the Red Cross to perform their work.

While the hotel’s owners are receiving public money to operate as a quarantine site, they also appear in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Registry. The owners did not use the federal wage subsidy program to retain its laid-off workers.  The companies named in the CEWS Registry are PHI Hotel Group and Van-Air Holdings Ltd.

Elisa Cardona, a laid-off hostess who worked at Pacific Gateway for seven years told the Finance Committee: “Hotel management used the federal takeover as an excuse to terminate me and 140 of my co-workers.  That’s over 70 per cent of our staff.  Prime Minister Trudeau promised us a feminist recovery. But women are bearing the brunt of firings at our hotel on the government’s watch. These were living wage jobs that allowed us to support our families.”

“Mr. Trudeau, stop giving millions of dollars to our owners when we are losing our jobs,” said Kiran Dhillon, a room attendant with seventeen years on the job and was terminated alongside most of her co-workers this month.

Hotel workers want action from the Government to stop using or directing public money to Pacific Gateway. UNITE HERE also urged the government to restrict companies from tapping the proposed federal hiring subsidy, the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, or CEWS, if they eliminate their staff to replace them for less.

The House Finance Committee is reviewing the proposed 2021 Budget, which includes the proposed federal hiring subsidy for businesses, an extension of CEWS, and other COVID-related relief programs.

Workers at Pacific Gateway Hotel went on strike on May 3, 2021 to protest mass firings at the hotel.

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

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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. Local 40 is affiliated with UNITE HERE Canada.