Press Release: Hotel and airport workers elect BC’s first Chinese-Canadian union president

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.

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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.

Notice: Local 40 Election Results

Cafeteria workers demand UNBC take action on poverty wages!

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.

Local 40 Election Update

Workers protest Westin Bayshore’s “green” program which hurts hotel housekeepers

Part of Hospitality Workers’ Day of Action across Canada and the U.S.

 

This Thursday, hotels workers held an action at the Westin Bayshore to draw attention to how the company’s “Make a Green Choice” program leads to lost hours and income for workers, dirtier rooms, heavier workloads, and more chemicals being used on the job.

This is part of UNITE HERE ‘s day of action in which tens of thousands of hospitality workers are participating in demonstrations across 40 cities in Canada and the U.S.  Today’s actions include strikes, rallies, public announcements of union organizing campaigns, and worker delegations to call for justice at work.

In Vancouver, hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, protested and organized a delegation to Westin demanding that the Marriott chain end the use of the program.

Workers say the “Green Choice” program is a way for hotels to cut workers’ hours rather than conserve energy.  Under this “green” program, guests are incentivized with a $5 coupon to decline housekeeping for the day.  However, housekeepers report the dark side of the program:  their hours are cut from the schedule – causing a loss of income – and their workloads become heavier.  Rooms left unattended for several days can take three times as long to clean, and hotel housekeepers say they must use extra chemicals to clean these rooms.

Under the guise of the “Green Choice” program, the Westin Bayshore saves money at the expense of hotel housekeepers, primarily women, who see their jobs become more unpredictable and precarious.

Meanwhile, in Toronto this week, UNITE HERE Local 75 partnered with Oxfam Canada’s Shortchanged Campaign to call attention to hotel housekeepers’ working conditions across Canada and around the globe.  To view the video, see: https://www.facebook.com/OxfamCanada/videos/10155665228744277/

Today, women are leading the fight to create more sustainable jobs in the hotel industry!

 

Local 40 represents thousands of hospitality workers in the Lower Mainland and across BC.  The Local is an affiliate of UNITE HERE which represents over 270,000 members working in the hotel, food service, gaming and related industries. 

Notice of proposed Bylaw amendments

Click here for Proposed Bylaw Amendments: http://www.uniteherelocal40.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NEW-Local-40-bylaw-amendments-for-membership-meeting.pdf

Vancouver Fairbnb Members Release Report on Platform Accountability

Broad Vancouver coalition calls on the City to hold Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms accountable for illegal listings

Vancouver – A Vancouver-based coalition representing workers, tenants, landlords, housing advocates, and hospitality providers has joined forces to demand that the City of Vancouver hold short-term rental platforms directly accountable for illegal listings. The local groups are affiliated with Fairbnb.ca, Canada’s national coalition advocating for fair rules for short-term rentals.

Fairbnb.ca’s Vancouver members include: Mole Hill Housing Society, Generation Squeeze, LandlordBC, Vancouver Tenant’s Union, Homes not Hotels, Bed & Breakfast Innkeeper’s Guild, the Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative Society and UNITE HERE! Local 40.

During today’s press conference, the Coalition urged the City to address weaknesses in its currently proposed short-term rental regulations which will come before Council this fall. The press conference was timed with the release of Fairbnb.ca’s new report, Accountable at the Source: Why Platform Accountability Can’t Be Left out of Vancouver’s Short-Term Rental Regulation.

Local 40 member, hotel worker Jonathan Milne was one of the speakers at the press conference outside Vancouver City Hall, along with Quentin Wright of Mole Hill Community Housing, David Hutniak of LandlordBC, Liam McLure of the Vancouver Tennant’s Union, and Tom de Grey of the SRO Collaborative.

Download the Report Here: http://fairbnb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Fairbnb_Platform-Accountability_final.pdf

Media Contact: Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105 or [email protected].

Press Conference: Fairbnb Vancouver Calls for Better Enforcement of Short-Term Rentals

Vancouver – September 12, 2017 –  Today at 12pm, a coalition of local Vancouver groups will be releasing a report on the regulation of short-term rentals like Airbnb; the report has been drafted jointly with Canada’s national Fairbnb.ca coalition.

These groups include:

Mole Hill Community Housing Society, Generation Squeeze, LandlordBC, Vancouver Tenants Union, Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative, and UNITE HERE! Local 40

The report addresses a critical weakness in Vancouver’s proposed short-term rental by-law, which is currently under consideration by City Council.

WHERE: Vancouver City Hall Steps, North side.

WHEN: 12:00 noon, until approximately 12:30pm

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105, [email protected]

You can also follow us @fairbnbcanada on Twitter and Fairbnbcanada on Facebook