One Day Longer, One Year Later: As Tourism Rebounds, Hilton Metrotown Workers Mark 1-Year Lockout with Mass Action While Customers Go Elsewhere

Burnaby, B.C. — Hilton Metrotown workers will rally today to commemorate BC’s longest hotel worker lockout where they have picketed for 365 days, including holidays. Workers will pledge to continue their efforts in front of the hotel and reach out to customers. Customer groups have continued to move events and stay away from the hotel until its owner resolves the lockout. The BC Federation of Labour endorsed a customer boycott of the hotel in 2021, and $2 million worth of union customer business is estimated to have been lost since the lockout began. Lufthansa crew members moved their accommodations away from the hotel last year.

The rally will feature an urgent call for Hilton Metrotown and DSDL Canada Investments — a subsidiary of Seoul-based DSDL Co. — to resolve the lockout and bring workers back ahead of tourism picking up this spring. Workers at the hotel were locked out on April 15, 2021 after Hilton Metrotown terminated nearly 100 long-term staff. Many of those impacted are women and people of colour.

“While the business class wants us to believe there’s a labour shortage, the Hilton Metrotown is refusing to return their long-term staff who want to work. Workers will continue to reach out to customers and investors, and picket the hotel for as long as it takes!” said Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE Local 40.

WHO:            Over 400 locked out Hilton Metrotown workers, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley and other elected officials, labour and community allies from across the lower mainland.

WHERE:        6083 McKay Ave, Burnaby, BC

WHEN:          TODAY, Thursday, April 14 at 5:00 P.M.

VISUALS:     Hotel workers, elected officials, and community allies chanting, marching, and speaking with colourful banners, signs, and bullhorns.

Locked out Hilton Metrotown workers and UNITE HERE Local 40 representatives will be made available for interviews.

For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]

 -30-

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.

SFU Food Service Workers Reach Union Contract

160 food service workers at Simon Fraser University secure deal including up to 17% wage increases

Burnaby, B.C. — SFU food service workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40,  have ratified a standard-setting union contract with Compass Group by over 85% YES vote. Some food service employees will be earning close to 17% wage increases over the next three years. With this new agreement, workers will receive the biggest raises in the history of SFU, ultimately getting them to a living wage.

The union bargaining committee achieved their collective agreement after workers held a button-up action and rallied at SFU just a few weeks prior. As inflation across the lower mainland has dramatically risen over the years, the new contract provides a living wage and improved working conditions for over 150 workers. 

Along with historic wage increases, workers will see improvements to their medical benefits, a process for discussing access to SFU benefits — as accessed by direct SFU employees — and stronger recall protections in case of natural disasters or emergency situations such as COVID-19 so no one loses seniority due to stoppage of business.

“I’m proud that SFU food service workers came together and fought hard to win what we deserve,” said Nouha Ishaq, a food service worker at SFU for 17 years. “It feels good to know people will have more money in their pockets. We don’t know later on what the future will bring, but for now we did our best together as a union. We were persistent in this fight and showed we’re not giving up to create a better future for food service workers. I look forward to going back to work and serving the university community!”

“Thanks to Compass Group for being able to bargain with us effectively through the pandemic,” said Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE Local 40. “Food service workers are valued members of the SFU community and we’re glad that Compass Group recognized this in the end.”

Media Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]

###

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.

Pacific Gateway Hotel Workers Urge Richmond City Council to Support BC Unequal Women and Hotel Boycott

Richmond, BC — Yesterday, a delegation of striking Pacific Gateway hotel workers appeared and spoke before Richmond City Council on Monday, April 11, to urge City Councillors not to spend any public money at the hotel until the current labour dispute is resolved. Members of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition also attended in solidarity. Pacific Gateway hotel workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 40, B.C.’s hospitality workers’ union.

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the hospitality industry throughout the province and disproportionately affected women and people of colour. In Richmond, the federal government took over Pacific Gateway as a quarantine site during the pandemic and pulled out in January 2022 citing concerns over the hotel’s treatment of workers. Workers went on strike in May 2021 after the hotel terminated 143 long-term staff during the height of Covid. The B.C. Federation of Labour has issued a boycott of the hotel.

UNITE HERE Local 40 launched the B.C. Unequal Women campaign to call attention to how women are bearing the brunt of pandemic terminations in the hospitality industry. At Pacific Gateway, of the 143 workers terminated, 90 of them were women. In May 2021, a terminated housekeeper filed a human rights complaint against the hotel on behalf of herself and 89 other fired women for wrongful firings on the basis of sex and racial discrimation.

“When Pacific Gateway Hotel workers went on strike in May 2021, the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition wrote to the Mayor and Council requesting that the City NOT patronize the hotel. We were advised by UNITE HERE Local 40 that 38% of Pacific Gateway workers live in Richmond. Agreeing to not use the hotel until the labour dispute is over would show that City Council truly cares about their residents who want to earn a living here,” said De Whalen, longtime Richmond resident and president of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition.

“I urge Richmond City Council to do the right thing and support Pacific Gateway workers, many of whom are women, in the COVID-19 recovery. At a time when there is a labour shortage in B.C., our hotel should be bringing terminated workers back to their jobs, not replacing us with potentially cheaper hires,” said Treva Martell, a terminated server from Pacific Gateway hotel and Richmond resident.

CONTACT: Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356; or Michelle Travis, [email protected], 778-960-9785

###

UNITE HERE Local 40 is a labour union representing workers in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.

Job Posting: In-House Union Lawyer – Vancouver

OVERVIEW

UNITE HERE Local 40 is a progressive, movement-based labour union working to improve labour standards in the hospitality sector.  Based in Vancouver, we advocate for over 50,000 union and non-union hospitality workers employed in hotels, universities, airports, and remote camps throughout British Columbia.  Local 40 is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international labour union that represents 270,000 working people across North America.  Reflecting the needs of our membership, our union is at the forefront of efforts to defend the rights of immigrants, people of colour, and women in the workplace and in the political sphere.

We seek an in-house union lawyer to join our legal team.  The In-House Union Lawyer will be responsible for developing and implementing creative legal strategies to help workers organize and win better working conditions and benefits.

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

Local 40’s legal strategies are interwoven with and designed to support its broader efforts to organize and empower workers.  The In-House Union Lawyer will work with integrated teams of organizers, researchers, and communicators to advance the Union’s campaigns for workplace justice.  The In-House Union Lawyer’s primary job responsibilities will be to:

  • Investigate, develop and litigate cases to vindicate the rights of workers in non-union workplaces, both in court and before administrative tribunals
  • Represent the Union in enforcing worker rights won through collective bargaining, including in mediations and arbitration hearings, and assisting in the collective bargaining process
  • Advise staff and leadership on campaign strategies and tactics
  • Develop and advocate for municipal and provincial laws to benefit workers in such areas as improving wages, ensuring race and gender pay equity, and preventing sexual harassment and assault
  • There will be a 12 month probation period

QUALIFICATIONS

UNITE HERE Local 40 anticipates hiring counsel with 2 to 4 years of litigation experience for this position.

Required

  • Member in good standing or eligible for membership in the Law Society of British Columbia
  • Excellent research, writing, analytic and speaking skills
  • Ability to prepare briefs and other written materials for administrative, court, and arbitration proceedings
  • Ability to present persuasive arguments in administrative, court and arbitration hearings
  • Strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and the ability to manage numerous ongoing cases and projects
  • A creative mindset, strong initiative, and the desire to advance innovative strategies to support worker organizing
  • A demonstrated commitment to civil, labour and human rights and racial justice

Desired

  • Familiarity with the labour movement or workplace justice campaigns
  • Experience working within immigrant communities

TO APPLY

Please submit a resume, cover letter, a legal writing sample, and three references to [email protected] with the subject title “Union In-House Lawyer Position”

DEADLINE

Open until filled.

BENEFITS

  • Salary based on experience (range $100,000 to $120,000)
  • Medical, dental, STD, life insurance
  • This position is confidential and excluded from membership in the staff bargaining unit.

SFU Workers Hold Protest: “Don’t we Deserve a Living Wage too?”

Burnaby, BC — Today, food service workers at SFU and community allies demonstrated on campus to urge Chartwells, a dining services contractor, to pay them a living wage as they resume contract bargaining. Just three weeks earlier, 160 food services workers wore red “Living Wage NOW!” buttons on their uniforms. With inflation soaring across the lower mainland and the impact of Covid reducing hours of work and instigating safety concerns, SFU food service workers are fighting for a living wage, safer workloads, and the same benefits as direct SFU employees.

“I’ve worked at SFU for almost two decades but I’m making $17.50 an hour, it’s ridiculous. I feel like we are being treated as if we’re second-class citizens. Food service workers help keep the campus running. We’re the ones who feed the students, professors, and larger community every day. We need a living wage now!” said Nouha Ishaq, a food service worker who worked at SFU for 17 years.

“The City of Burnaby has been certified as a Living Wage Employer and SFU is one of the largest employers in Burnaby, yet people who work there can’t even pay their bills. It’s time that Chartwells and the university take responsibility to ensure that food service workers on campus get a living wage,” said Jade Ho, a PhD student at SFU and Contract Worker Justice coalition member.

Workers have been bargaining with the company over the past several weeks. However Chartwells’ proposal is still far short of the living wage. The workers and the company are discussing future negotiations and planning to get back to the bargaining table next week.

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

-30-

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.