For Immediate Release: Alberta Labour Movement Launches Boycott of 3 Edmonton Hotels as Deadline Passes

Varscona, Metterra and Matrix hotels come under boycott on eve of Edmonton Fringe Festival over failure to resolve BC lockout

Edmonton, AB – Today, UNITE HERE Canada, the Alberta Federation of Labour and other labour and community groups staged a lively demonstration and announced a boycott of the Varscona, Metterra and Matrix hotels.  Last month, labour groups issued a boycott deadline of August 8 if the hotels’ owner, DSDL Canada Investments, failed to resolve a four-month lockout of workers at Hilton Vancouver Metrotown.  The customer boycott comes as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and major events including the Edmonton Fringe Festival return.

Dozens of protestors kicked-off the demonstration at the Varscona and marched down Whyte Avenue to Metterra Hotel and through Old Strathcona.  UNITE HERE Canada and Alberta labour groups are urging residents and all travellers, including attendees of the upcoming Edmonton Fringe Festival, to avoid patronizing the three Edmonton hotels as well as Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, which is already under boycott.

“On behalf of the 170,000 affiliated members of the Alberta Federation of Labour, we stand in solidarity with hotel workers.  We will not patronize DSDL’s hotels in Edmonton until they resolve the lockout of Hilton Metrotown workers and agree to call back their long-term staff,” said Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

DSDL has taken advantage of the pandemic to eliminate workers and erode decades of economic gains, disproportionately impacting women and immigrant workers.  In BC, DSDL-owned Hilton Metrotown fired 97 workers who were laid off during the pandemic and refuses to bring them back as business recovers.  The hotel locked out the remaining workers this April; they have been locked out for almost seventeen weeks. In Quebec, DSDL attempted to cheat hotel workers at a fifth hotel, Hotel Pur, from collecting their full severance.

“We thank the Alberta labour movement for supporting locked out workers in BC.  DSDL’s poor treatment of workers has consequences. Their refusal to resolve the Hilton Metrotown lockout and to commit to return long-term workers to their jobs is why the boycott of DSDL-owned hotels is growing.  As the economy reopens, customers should use hotels which respect their workers rather than take advantage during a pandemic,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40, which represents Hilton Metrotown workers in BC.

DSDL Canada Investments is a subsidiary of South Korea-based DSDL Co.  DSDL was founded by a prominent and politically connected family whose chairman was convicted and sentenced to prison for embezzlement and illegal financial transactions in South Korea.  The chairman, Cho Wuk Rai, was later pardoned by former President Lee Myung-bak, a family relative of Cho’s.

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

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Women Labour Leaders Lead Mass Protest, Block Traffic to Support Women Fired by Hotel Industry

Heads of BC’s largest unions and Canadian Labour Congress Demand Hotel Industry Return Workers to their Jobs in Unprecedented Sit-In Action in Burnaby

Vancouver, BC: Today, women leaders from B.C.’s largest labour unions and across Canada joined women hotel workers to lead a mass sit-in that brought Burnaby traffic to a halt. They led hundreds of protestors into the streets to occupy the intersection of Kingsway and Willingdon to demand the hotel industry return long-term staff to their jobs. Hotel housekeepers, front desk agents, and other women hotel workers from Hilton Metrotown and Pacific Gateway, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, took over the street with union leaders to protest the hotel industry’s treatment of workers during the pandemic and called for more action on the part of industry and government to protect workers’ jobs. The demonstration kicked-off at Hilton Metrotown in Burnaby where workers have been locked out for 112 days.

The unprecedented sit-in action brought together women presidents and officers of BC’s major unions, including Teri Mooring, BC Teachers’ Federation; Barb Nederpel and Betty Valenzuela, Hospital Employees’ Union; Karen Ranalletta, CUPE BC; Kim Novak, UFCW 1518; Kari Michaels, BC General Employees’ Union; Coleen Jones, Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Sussanne Skidmore, BC Federation of Labour; Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40, as well the newly elected leadership team of the Canadian Labour Congress, Bea Bruske, Lily Chang, and Siobhan Vipond, and other leaders in support of women hotel workers who are the backbone of the industry and have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

The mass protest put focus on Hilton Metrotown where workers were locked out on April 15 after the hotel terminated 97 long-term staff, including women with 20 years on the job. The hotel has used pandemic firings in an effort to strip away decades of hard-won economic gains. Striking workers from Pacific Gateway in Richmond were also among the women who led the action. Pacific Gateway, a federal quarantine site, terminated 142 workers, 90 of whom are women. A human rights complaint over sex and racial discrimination was filed against the hotel in June, alleging women, particularly racialized women, have been disproportionately targeted for terminations while men’s jobs were more likely to be protected.

When the pandemic hit BC in March 2020, 50,000 hospitality workers were laid off. Instead of committing to bring them back as business recovers, the hotel industry terminated thousands of workers, many of whom are women and immigrants. In response to the industry’s efforts to erode workers’ economic security, UNITE HERE Local 40 launched the BC Unequal Women campaign to call attention to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women hotel workers. With recovery in sight, the industry’s actions have contributed to their current labour shortage woes.

Hilton Metrotown and Pacific Gateway hotel workers have received widespread support from BC’s unions, the BC Federation of Labour which issued a public boycott of both hotels, community groups across the Lower Mainland, and elected officials across municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.

 

Quotes: 

Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40:

“Hilton Metrotown is a prime example of how employers are using the pandemic to erode everything workers built over decades. But workers aren’t letting the hotel industry get away with this. Together, with union and community allies across Canada, women leaders are standing up and calling on the hotel industry to bring fired women back to their jobs.”

Baljinder Kahlon, fired housekeeping supervisor at Hilton Metrotown:

“While businesses are reopening and people are travelling again now that border restrictions are lifted, I should be gearing up to go back to my housekeeping job. But I’m not. Instead, my hotel says that after 20 years of my loyalty and service, they don’t want me. I raised my kids on this job. The hotel industry is treating us women as if we’re disposable, which is unacceptable. That’s why we are leading the way for a better future for all workers so that no one gets left behind.”

Teri Mooring, President of the BC Teachers’ Federation:

“It’s disgusting how the Hilton Metrotown has exploited the pandemic to blatantly disregard the rights of its unionized employees, most of whom are women of colour. The BCTF and our 47,000 members stand in solidarity with UNITE HERE! Local 40 members and will continue to take our business elsewhere until these workers’ rights are fully restored.”

Karen Ranalletta, President of CUPE BC:

“The way the Hilton has treated its workers – mostly women, mostly racialized – tells you all you need to know about this company’s so-called values. Until this hotel negotiates a fair resolution with UNITE HERE Local 40, this hotel won’t see a nickel’s worth of business from CUPE BC. I want Hilton management to hear this: Local 40 has the full support of our 100,000 members.”

Barb Nederpel, President of Hospital Employees’ Union:

“HEU’s 50,000+ members stand firmly with UNITE HERE Local 40 members who are fighting for their livelihoods. We will not back down until hotel employers guarantee recall rights for all laid off workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and treats these workers—made up mainly of women and people of colour—with the fairness and respect they deserve.”

Stephanie Smith, President of BC General Employees’ Union:

“The Hilton Metrotown is using the pandemic as an excuse to attack their workers’ basic rights. It’s unconscionable and it must stop. The 82,000+ members of the BCGEU stand in solidarity with the women of Unite Here Local 40. We will support their fight for fairness however we can for as long as it takes.”

Sussanne Skidmore, Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour:

“It’s shameful that Hilton Metrotown has locked out their long-term workers for 112 days. On behalf of the BC Federation of Labour, we will continue to boycott this hotel and keep the public pressure on to ensure that women return to their jobs!”

Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress:

“These workers should be treated like the heroes they are. Hotel workers, the majority of whom are women, have been among those hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.  We do not tolerate employers who try to recover on the backs of women by making work more precarious and insecure. The Canadian Labour Congress, representing over three million workers, fully supports workers at Hilton Metrotown, Pacific Gateway and others who are courageously fighting for their jobs.”

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

Women Labour Leaders to Lead Demonstration in Support of Women Fired by Hotel Industry 

Women Labour Leaders to Lead Demonstration in Support of Women Fired by Hotel Industry 

Heads of BC’s largest unions and Canadian Labour Congress to Demand Hotel Industry Return Workers Back to their Jobs in Unprecedented Sit-In Action


Vancouver, BC: Today, women labour leaders from B.C. and across Canada will stand shoulder to shoulder with women hotel workers in a direct action to demand that the hotel industry bring long-term staff back to their jobs. Hilton Metrotown workers have been locked out for almost 16 weeks, after management fired 97 long-term employees. The hotel industry is taking advantage of the pandemic to erode the economic security of workers, primarily women and immigrants — with Hilton Metrotown leading the way. In response, workers launched the BC Unequal Women campaign to call attention to the disproportionate impact from the pandemic on women in the hotel industry. In this unprecedented direct action, women labour leaders from UNITE HERE Local 40, BCGEU, BCTF, HEU, CUPE BC, UFCW, and the BC Federation of Labour and more, will take over the streets to support women hotel workers who have borne the brunt of the pandemic for far too long. They will be joined by the newly elected leadership team of women heading up the Canadian Labour Congress and the broader community.

WHO:        Hilton Metrotown hotel workers, women labour leaders, and allies across Canada. Press conference speakers include:

  • Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress
  • Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40 
  • Teri Mooring, President of the BC Teachers’ Federation 
  • Karen Ranalletta, President of CUPE BC 
  • Locked out Hilton Metrotown hotel worker Liza Secretaria
  • Striking Pacific Gateway hotel worker, Pardeep Thandi

WHERE: 6083 McKay Ave, Burnaby, BC

WHEN: Thursday, August 5th

*Press Conference to start at 4:30 p.m.

*Sit-In to begin at 5:00 p.m.

VISUALS:     Hotel workers and allies chanting with colourful banners, signs, and bullhorns

Media availability with UNITE HERE Local 40 President Zailda Chan and 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.

 

Fired Women Protest, Call on MP Ron McKinnon to Protect their Jobs at Quarantine Hotel

Coquitlam, B.C.— Today, striking Pacific Gateway hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, held a demonstration outside MP Ron McKinnon’s office to urge him to protect their jobs. Ron McKinnon is the MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam and Chair of the Standing Committee on Health, which Pacific Gateway workers testified in front of recently. The federal government’s inaction over the Richmond hotel’s mass firings has exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on women, making their lives more insecure and unequal during COVID. Pacific Gateway, one of the first quarantine hotels set up in Canada when COVID-19 hit, has terminated 74% of its female employees since February 2021 instead of calling workers back to their jobs as business resumes. The government has extended its contract at Pacific Gateway through December 31st. 

Kiran Dhillon, a fired Pacific Gateway room attendant of 17 years: “We need MP Ron McKinnon to step up and put pressure on Justin Trudeau to act! How much longer is our Prime Minister going to continue to cross our picket line while we struggle to put food on the table and care for our children? I have two kids and it’s been stressful getting by day to day. I need my job to provide for my children’s futures. 90% of my housekeeping department were fired just because of the pandemic. If this what our national leader calls a feminist recovery? This is unacceptable!”

A human rights complaint over sex and racial discrimination was filed against the hotel last month alleging women, particularly racialized women, have been disproportionately targeted for terminations while men’s jobs were more likely to be protected.  

Pacific Gateway workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, went on strike on May 3, 2021 over mass firings and drastic economic rollbacks.  Workers have asked to return to their jobs after the federal quarantine ends and when the work becomes available again. The hotel has refused.

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.

 

South Korean Ambassador to Canada Urged to Intervene in Hilton Metrotown Hotel Lockout

Vancouver, BC – Today, in a multi-city action, locked out Hilton Metrotown workers and their supporters across the country urged South Korea’s Ambassador to Canada to intervene in the growing dispute with a Seoul-based hotel owner.  The workers, who have been locked out for over 100 days, called on South Korea’s Ambassador, Keung Ryong Chang, to engage members of the prominent and politically connected family that owns DSDL Co., the owner of Hilton Metrotown.  

Workers and their supporters led actions at South Korean consulates in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and its embassy in Ottawa. They led delegations to meet with consulate and embassy officials, leafletted consulate staff and, in some locations, demonstrated outside the consulate building.  

Since the pandemic began, Hilton Metrotown workers have urged the hotel and its owner to return workers to their jobs as business conditions improve.  Instead, DSDL-owned Hilton Metrotown fired 97 workers and locked out remaining staff in mid-April this year.  DSDL has not shown any willingness to resolve the protracted dispute. DSDL is owned by the Cho family, members of which founded Hyosung, the world’s leading producer of spandex.  Their actions have prompted boycotts and widespread support for the workers.

The BC Federation of Labour issued a public boycott of Hilton Metrotown in May, which could cost the hotel up to $3 million in lost business alone. The Alberta Federation of Labour has called for a boycott beginning on August 8 of three DSDL-owned hotels in Edmonton. Last week, unionized workers from a DSDL-owned hotel in Quebec City set up a symbolic picket line to protest Hilton Metrotown’s mistreatment of its employees.

In a letter to the South Korean ambassador this week, UNITE HERE Local 40 President Zailda Chan said: “We are deeply concerned that the crisis at Hilton Metrotown, between working people in British Columbia – many of them racialized women – and members of the South Korean business and political elite, will negatively damage ongoing good faith and trust between communities of the two countries. We’re urging you, Ambassador Chang, to intervene with DSDL to resolve this escalating conflict in Canada.

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.