As Workers Rise Up During “Striketober” in Response to Pandemic Hardships, Hospitality Workers across Canada and U.S. Say it’s Time to “Come Back Stronger”

Rally at Hilton Vancouver Metrotown this Thursday

WHO: Over 8,000 UNITE HERE hospitality workers across Canada and U.S.  

WHAT: Hilton Metrotown and other Vancouver area hotel workers to hold a rally with community allies as part of day of action across 29 cities.

WHERE: (In B.C.) Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, 6083 McKay Ave, Burnaby

WHEN: Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 3:00 PM

WHY: Workers’ renewed militancy has made headlines during so-called “Striketober,” and hospitality workers are fighting for a recovery with good jobs under the banner “Come Back Stronger.”  Approximately 8,000 hospitality workers in 29 cities across Canada and the U.S. will hold a variety of events on October 28 – including marches, pickets, rallies, a unionization vote, and a strike authorization vote, as well as internal events such as meetings with management. 

Hotel, casino, and food service workers say their jobs haven’t come back even as business rebounds because employers are taking advantage of the pandemic to increase workloads, introduce automation, and cut jobs. Meanwhile, workers at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown have been locked out for over 6 months. Hilton management fired 97 long-term workers during the pandemic, many of them women. The hotel wants to cut back daily room cleaning to save on labour costs at a time when sanitizing rooms is critical to worker and guest safety. Across North America, hospitality workers will lead actions to call for a recovery where no one gets left behind.

VISUALS: Crowds of housekeepers, cooks, bartenders, and concessions workers will carry bold black and red banners or signs.

Note: Interviews with Hilton Metrotown workers and union representatives are available immediately. Contact: Stephanie at 604-928-7356 or [email protected]

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UNITE HERE is the hospitality workers’ union in Canada and the U.S., representing over 300,000 workers in hotels, gaming, restaurants and food service, airports, and more. Ninety-eight percent of its members were laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and sixty percent remain out of work today.

Membership Meetings & Proposed Bylaw Amendments

The next Local 40 membership meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, at 5 pm, at the Pinnacle Hotel, 1133 W Hastings St, Vancouver.

Special membership meetings will also take place:

  • If you work outside the Lower Mainland, on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 5 pm, on Zoom (Meeting ID: 821 3824 0671; Passcode: 111463)
  • If you work in the Lower Mainland, on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 5 pm, at the Pinnacle Hotel, 1133 W Hastings St, Vancouver.

These special membership meetings are for the purpose of voting on amendments to the Local 40 Bylaws as proposed by the Local 40 Executive Board on September 29, 2021. For a complete listing of the proposed amendments and of our current bylaws, click the links below:

Exhibit A

Local 40 Bylaw Proposal Draft Aug 31 2021

Local 40 Bylaws (2014) with Proposed Amendments

The proposed amendments include:

  • Holding the Local 40 election in September instead of February
  • Allowing in person voting in the lower mainland
  • Reducing the requirements to be able to run for office
  • Detailing the process for approval of the Local’s operating expenses
  • Simplifying the process for changing the Local’s dues structure

If you have any questions, or need a Zoom link (for those outside the Lower Mainland), please speak with your Local 40 representative, your Executive Board representative, or contact us at [email protected] or 604-291-8211.

Workers Report Discrimination on the Basis of Sex and Race at Pan Pacific Vancouver

Vancouver, B.C. —  Several hotel housekeepers have filed a human rights complaint against the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel over sex and racial discrimination on behalf of women affected by mass firings. The complaint alleges that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel’s mass terminations disparately impacted women of colour while men’s jobs were more likely to be protected.  

Women were impacted by Pan Pacific Hotel’s actions, according to the complaint. The luxury downtown hotel located at Canada Place fired around 100 long-term workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the total number of women fired since June 2020, 94% are women of colour. Many of them worked in the housekeeping department. 

Pan Pacific Vancouver hotel is owned by an affiliate of Westmont Hospitality Group. Westmont is one of the world’s largest privately held hospitality companies, with over 400 hotels worldwide. Westmont tapped the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program but fired workers anyway. Despite their vast wealth, they have taken over $42 million worth of publicly-funded Covid relief across North America. Westmont owns three other hotels in downtown Vancouver: the JW Marriott, the Douglas, and Fairmont Waterfront. The JW Marriott and Fairmont Waterfront also fired workers.

“It’s shocking how my hotel fired us — and worse that they fired mostly women of colour. We’ve worked there for decades to make the Pan Pacific successful. One time, an American guest even gave me a $100 US bill when he saw that I worked hard through the entire night. The hotel should be ashamed if the guests knew what the Pan Pacific is doing to us now,” said Jerty Gaa, a fired Pan Pacific public area attendant who served the hotel for 11 years.

The complaint filed on behalf of the women is seeking reinstatement of all group members to their jobs at the Pan Pacific, 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. 

A lawsuit was filed by a long-term Pan Pacific hotel worker in January this year over wrongful terminations, and a second one was filed by workers in April over breach of contract. UNITE HERE Local 40 represents workers at the Pan Pacific 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.

 

Civeo Breaches Labour Code, Steering GasLink & Trans Mountain Camp Workers to Join Union Selected by Employer

Kitimat, BC —The BC Labour Relations Board has just ruled that industrial camp operator Civeo gave improper support to the BC Regional Council of Carpenters and unduly influenced workers against UNITE HERE Local 40, BC’s camp workers union.

“The Employer first contacted the BCRCC (BC Regional Council of Carpenters) immediately after Local 40 gave the Employer notice of its intention to organize through its access request. It did so in response to Local 40 access request and, I find, in the hopes that doing so would cause Local 40 to abandon its attempt to organize the Employer’s employees, or would otherwise prevent Local 40 from successfully organizing its employees. The result was to tilt the playing field towards BCRCC and away from Local 40, thus interfering with its employees’ ability to freely choose their representative,” was one of the Labour Boards’ findings.

“This Labour Board’s decision is a victory for all camp and construction workers that they should be able to choose their own union without employers picking a union for them”, said Robert Demand, Executive Director at UNITE HERE and an Executive Board Member of the BC Building Trades. “Finally, UNITE HERE organizers can meet with camp workers and allow these cooks, camp attendants and others to decide if they want a union. I think they’ll be very interested in a fighting union like ours.”

In June 2021, UNITE HERE Local 40 advised Civeo that they intended to visit and organize their non-union camp employees. In response, Civeo denied Local 40 access to their camps, picked the BC Regional Council of Carpenters to negotiate a contract, and stopped workers from their right to choose which union, if any, to join.

The Labour Board agreed with Local 40 that Civeo interfered and now the Civeo/Carpenters contract has been cancelled. Civeo must now allow UNITE HERE Local 40 into the 7 Mile, 9A and P2 Lodges on the GasLink pipeline and the Trans Mountain Merritt Camp to speak to employees about joining BC’s camp workers union.

UNITE HERE Local 40 already represents Civeo workers at Sitka Lodge in Kitimat, along with other camp workers supporting LNG in Kitimat and the GasLink pipeline.

UNITE HERE Local 40 has been advising shareholders and First Nation community allies about Civeo’s behavior at Sitka Lodge over the past two months.

Monika Schuster, Civeo worker and UNITE HERE Local 40 Job Steward from Sitka Lodge: “I’m so glad that these Civeo workers will now have the path to join the union of their choice.  All camp workers deserve a living wage for the hard work we put in to build a better BC! I encourage them to join our UNITE HERE Local 40 family.”

 

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

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UNITE HERE Local 40 is the camp and hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the industrial camps, hotels, food service and airports throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.

 

 

Coast Bastion Hotel Workers Escalate Protest, Deliver Petition to Hotel Management

Nanaimo, B.C. — Today, dozens of Coast Bastion hotel workers and community allies escalated their protest at the Coast Bastion by delivering a petition signed by workers to hotel management. With momentum on their side, they announced that if the hotel continues to mistreat workers, they will move towards multiple actions including calling a customer boycott of the hotel. The Coast Bastion is using the pandemic to eliminate the practice of daily room cleaning, and destroy wages and job security. Coast Bastion hotel workers are represented by UNITE HERE Local 40.

“We are thoroughly disappointed with hotel management. The Coast Bastion is attempting to use the pandemic to strip provisions from our contract at a time when they should be helping us get through the crisis. While our fight is for all the workers who have made this hotel successful, our housekeepers are the backbone of the hospitality industry. It’s outrageous that they’re being abused with an excessive workload — and getting hurt because of the hotel’s inhumane actions. Coast Bastion: treat us with respect, not like we’re just a number,” said Paul Suffron, who has worked in the maintenance department at the Coast Bastion for five years.

Coast Bastion fired nearly 50 long-term staff in December and refuses to commit to bring them back as business recovers. This September, over 1000 BC hospitality workers won recall rights and protections for union health care and pension, in a four-year agreement with Hospitality Industrial Relations. As BC’s hotel industry recovers from the pandemic and commits to bring workers back to their jobs, Coast Bastion and other Coast hotels in Victoria and Prince George are leaving workers behind.

UNITE HERE Local 40 launched the BC Unequal Women campaign earlier this year to call attention to how women in the hospitality industry are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Coast Bastion workers, many of them women bearing the brunt of COVID-19, have dedicated years of service to the hotel which has long served as a venue for union meetings and conventions.

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


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UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service, camp, and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.