UNITE HERE Local 40
Press Release – November 25, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356
Federal Government Takeover of Pacific Gateway Hotel Threatens 150 Jobs
Vancouver, B.C. – Today, UNITE HERE Local 40 held a press conference and called on the federal government to prevent 150 workers from losing their jobs at the Pacific Gateway Hotel, currently being used as a quarantine site. Hotel workers displaced by the takeover said they could be permanently terminated as early as January unless the government acts.
The federal government took over the hotel as a quarantine site near Vancouver International Airport and brought in the Red Cross to perform duties typically performed by the workers. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the government’s contract has been repeatedly extended. Hotel management has said this is an involuntary seizure with no clear end date. Yet, laid off Pacific Gateway workers could be permanently terminated as soon as January, when workers’ recall provisions in their collective bargaining agreement begin to expire.
“I have worked as a room attendant at Pacific Gateway Hotel for 45 years,” said Gangamma Naidu, a laid off room attendant. The government took over my hotel and people hired by the Red Cross were trained to do my job. I worked all my life for this hotel and don’t deserve to be treated like this. Why isn’t the government protecting our jobs?”
The Trudeau government has urged employers to keep workers attached to their jobs. Yet, their actions threaten the future of 150 long-term workers – most of them women and immigrants from the South Asian and Chinese communities. Many of them have served the hotel for decades.
“We understand that the hotel needs to be used to quarantine travellers,” said Treva Martell, a laid-off server who has worked at the hotel for 15 years. “But some of us could lose our jobs permanently starting in January. We’ve asked for 24 months to return to our jobs. We just want to know we can be recalled to our jobs, no matter how long the pandemic lasts. Our federal leaders and the Pacific Gateway need to guarantee we’ll have jobs to return to when the pandemic is over,” said Martell.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is a labour union representing workers in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Local 40 is affiliated with UNITE HERE Canada. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.
WHAT: UNITE HERE Local 40 will host a video press conference with laid-off workers who could permanently lose their jobs because of the federal takeover of the Pacific Gateway Hotel, currently being used as a quarantine site. The workers are represented by UNITE HERE Local 40.
WHEN: Wednesday, November 25 at 11AM Pacific Time / 2PM Eastern Time
- UNITE HERE Local 40 hotel members from Pacific Gateway Hotel
- Robert Demand, UNITE HERE Local 40 Executive Director
WHERE: Zoom; RSVP here for conference information:
WHY: The Trudeau government is urging employers to keep their workforce intact – yet the federal takeover of the Pacific Gateway Hotel, located near Vancouver International Airport, could put the jobs of 150 workers at risk. The federal government took over the hotel as a quarantine site in April and brought in the Red Cross to perform duties typically performed by hotel workers. As COVID-19 cases rise, there is no end in sight to the federal takeover of the hotel. Yet, the government has not acknowledged the impact of displacing long-term Pacific Gateway workers, most of whom are women and immigrants, who may begin to permanently lose their jobs in January.
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.
UNITE HERE Local 40, BC’s union for hospitality workers, is seeking an entry-level or experienced organizer to work locally on aggressive campaigns. Organizers work with members and unorganized workers to build the leadership and solidarity necessary to build a progressive and strong labour union.
UNITE HERE is a progressive labour union, representing more than 270,000 workers in the hotel and food service industries across North America. These industries employ large numbers of women, recent immigrants and people of colour. For more information on UNITE HERE, please visit www.unitehere.org
Innovative organizing campaigns, deep rank-and-file member engagement and leadership development, as well as our strong training program make UNITE HERE an exciting place to create change and build power with workers in the service industry.
UNITE HERE’s goal is to not only organize non-union workers and win campaigns, but also to train effective progressive labour leaders and organizers who can develop creative and strategic campaigns to change the economic balance of power in North America.
– Commitment to fight for justice and organize the unorganized.
– Commitment to rank and file leadership development .
– Excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to move workers to take collective action and build power.
– Ability to carry out goals and meet timelines while demonstrating a high level of proven leadership and independent judgment within the context of an overall plan and structure;
– Bilingual desired (Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, or Punjabi) .
– Willingness to work long hours, nights and weekends .
– Valid driver’s license and own car .
– Previous experience as an organizer in the student, immigrant, LGBT, or environmental movement is valued.
To apply for the Organizer position, please email your resume and cover letter to Mike Biskar at [email protected]
UNITE HERE Local 40 is seeking a political/community campaign organizer to support organizing and collective bargaining campaigns. This Organizer will lead solidarity-building efforts in support of these campaigns, represent the union in coalition and political initiatives, and assist with other aspects of the union’s programs.
This position will also include conducting industry, corporate, real estate and political research and analysis to develop and carry out campaigns focused on winning economic justice for low wage, primarily migrant hospitality workers. Our campaigns organize non-union workers and secure improved standards for existing union members in the hotel and food service industries.
Job responsibilities will include:
- Assist workers and staff in all aspects of organizing and contract campaigns.
- Build relationships and communicate with elected officials, community organizations, and others.
- Train rank and file workers to lead meetings with community organizations.
- Organize demonstrations and actions in support of union campaigns.
- Represent Local 40 in labor councils and other coalitions.
- Communicate and build relationships with a wide variety of players including community organizations, other labour unions, company officials, hotel customers, government staff and elected leaders
- Develop and carry out campaign strategies and tactics
- Work with UNITE HERE members, organizers, regional staff and elected leaders; assist in moving campaigns forward through organizing, leading actions, doing political work, as needed.
- Research companies using a wide variety of sources, including published databases, on-line and Internet sources
- Conduct local and field research on companies, industries and/or real estate development projects
- Develop company analyses and adapt them for various audiences (e.g. leadership & staff, workers, stockholders, political & regulatory bodies, the public)
Desired Qualifications include:
- Significant experience in community organizing, particularly in relation to labor issues;
- Passion for, and commitment to, fighting for workers’ rights
- Ability to work effectively with organizers and regional leaders required;
- Ability to work under pressure, including long hours and weekends as needed;
- Strong analytical, writing, computer and interpersonal/organizing skills
- University degree or relevant research and/or activist experience (labour, political, urban planning, or community/campus.
- Travel as needed;
- Familiarity with database and word processing software
- Reliable car and driver’s license (Optional though preferred)
Current UNITE HERE political/community campaigners have worked in the past as community and union organizers, urban planners, journalists, teachers, and researchers.
If interested, please email your resume and cover letter to Mike Biskar at [email protected] by Dec. 11, 2020. Women, LGBTQ, and People of Color are strongly encouraged to apply.
Salary is commensurate with experience. Positions include health and retirement benefits.