PRESS RELEASE: Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel Over Reckless Mass Terminations of Long-Term Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2021

Vancouver, BC — Today, UNITE HERE Local 40 announced that a class action lawsuit has been filed against the Pan Pacific Vancouver on behalf of workers wrongfully terminated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The suit, which was filed on behalf of current and former hourly employees, alleges the hotel misled workers, wrongfully terminated them without cause or notice, and were cheated out of pay owed to them for their years of service. The case was filed by a long-term employee who had worked at the hotel for 24 years until he was unexpectedly terminated along with dozens of his co-workers in August.

Early in the pandemic, hotel management concocted a plan to drastically reduce its staff from 450 workers to 80 and to dismiss the rest.  Instead of informing workers of their plans, the company sent workers repeated messages delivering false hope suggesting they intended to bring workers back.

Pan Pacific began terminating staff in batches, without cause or advance notice. The suit alleges that the hotel did this to avoid group termination provisions in the Employment Standards Act that requires advance notice and would trigger larger payouts to workers.

Between firings, the hotel offered workers $250 to sign a contract taking away their regular full-time status to become casual, on-call workers and waive their severance rights. Those who refused to sign were among those fired.

“The Pan Pacific’s actions were dishonest, self-serving, and reprehensible. Rather than keep their workforce intact, the hotel failed to communicate its termination plan to workers and strung them along with no regard for their future at a time when unemployment in the hotel sector has reached Depression-era levels. No hotel should be allowed to get away with this, which is why Pan Pacific workers are fighting back for what they deserve,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

Many of the affected Pan Pacific workers are immigrants and women with families who have served the hotel for more than 20 or even 30 years. Had the hotel properly notified workers of its plans to drastically reduce its workforce, this class of workers could have been entitled to receive significant payouts. If successful, workers could be owed as much as $3 million.

The high-end Pan Pacific Vancouver, located at Canada Place, is owned by an affiliate of Westmont Hospitality Group. Westmont is one of the world’s largest privately held hospitality companies with over 500 hotels worldwide.

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

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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.

2021 Membership Meetings

Membership meetings for 2021 occur as follows: 

Wednesday January 27th
Wednesday April  28th
Wednesday  July 28th
Wednesday October 27th

Meetings are regularly held at 5 pm at the union office in downtown Vancouver and all members are welcome. However, due to COVID-19 our meetings are now online until further notice. For more details on virtual membership meetings, contact Local 40 at [email protected]

PRESS RELEASE: Statement by Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40 regarding B.C. Province’s $105 Million Aid to Support Tourism Sector

For Immediate Release
Dec. 22, 2020

Vancouver, British Columbia — Will the Province live up to its promise of conditioning bailout relief on preserving tourism sector jobs? The province announced today that relief funds targeting tourism will be increased to $105 million but there are no details on whether this aid will be contingent on worker retention as Labour Minister Harry Bains suggested in September.

We urge the Province to make good on its promise to condition a tourism sector bailout on guarantees that workers will have first right of refusal to return to their jobs.

The hotel industry has lobbied extensively for financial assistance, tax breaks and other forms of support and have cited the need to prevent massive job loss as a rationale.   Yet, hotel employers are refusing to extend recall protections to thousands of hotel workers and have taken a pass on the federal wage subsidy program, CEWS, to keep their full workforce intact.

This week, Coast Hotels issued termination notices to dozens of its long-term workers – mostly older women who have been hard hit by the pandemic. This is just one more example of an employer taking advantage of the pandemic.

The lack of recall protections for workers has led to mass firings and extortionary tactics on the part of employers who want to strip away years of gains made by workers.   Hotel workers led a hunger strike on the steps of the Legislature in Victoria this summer to demonstrate why the government must take steps to keep workers attached to their jobs.  Otherwise, workers will be forced to reapply for their jobs or be replaced entirely when the industry recovers.

We will continue to engage the Premier, Ministers and MLAs because it is critical that our decision makers listen to the voices of hospitality workers who have served B.C.’s hospitality industry for decades.  The fight for their jobs continues.

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

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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.

PRESS RELEASE: LNG Janitors Vote to Strike as Holiday Season Looms

Industrial janitors are ready to walk off from LNG Canada camp in Kitimat over broken promises and poor health and safety protections during the pandemic

For Immediate Release:
Dec. 21, 2020

Kitimat, British Columbia — LNG Canada industrial janitors have overwhelmingly voted by 84% in favour of a strike. Frustrated with the lack of progress in contract negotiations with subcontractor Dexterra over poor health and safety protections and broken promises at the LNG site, the workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, are preparing to strike.

LNG janitors work on the frontlines in construction sites surrounded by heavy machinery, cleaning workcamps staffed by hundreds of other LNG workers. They are among the lowest paid workers on the LNG site. Janitors have not been provided with a living wage, adequate staffing levels, fair workloads, and enough health and safety equipment to protect against COVID-19 until recently. Janitors have attempted to work through these issues at the bargaining table for months. Dexterra’s failure to resolve these issues have prompted janitors to vote in favour of strike action.

Gary Hill, LNG janitor: “Many of the janitors are First Nations who came to LNG because of promises of good jobs. But LNG Canada broke that promise. British Columbians, particularly Indigenous workers, deserve more from this $40 billion project.” He continues: We’ve been trying to negotiate in good faith with Dexterra since June, but they’ve left us with no other option than to consider a strike. I support my three daughters and am trying to keep up with the high cost of rent. True reconciliation means providing jobs that pay a living wage. With strong support from our families and communities, we’re determined to strike for as long as it takes if the company refuses to work with us.”

LNG janitors unionized with UNITE HERE Local 40 this past June; they are in bargaining for a first contract.

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

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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.

PRESS RELEASE: Dozens of Coast Bastion Hotel Workers on Verge of Job Loss as Christmas Holiday Looms

For Immediate Release
December 18, 2020

Nanaimo, B.C.— With Christmas around the corner, laid-off Coast Bastion Hotel workers have learned they may soon be fired. Thirty servers, cooks, valets and other Coast Bastion staff, including those who have served the hotel for over 30 years, will be affected. The hotel refuses to ensure long-term staff can return to their jobs when tourism comes back. The workers have been laid-off since March.

Coast Hotels, which manages the hotel on behalf of the IUOE Local 115 pension fund, has refused to allow the workers up to 24 months to return to their jobs amid a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic crisis. Workers have invested years of service to the Coast Bastion, a premier hotel which has long served as a go-to destination for union meetings and conventions.

“I have loved being a server at Coast Bastion for 13 years. I’m almost 60 and was planning to retire here. Why won’t Coast and the hotel owner commit to bringing us back when business gets better? We know a vaccine is on the way and business will eventually recover. Instead, Coast Bastion is taking advantage of COVID-19 and turned their backs on us. I’m getting groceries at a food bank and struggling to pay my mortgage. I’m devastated. I don’t want to lose my career,” said Marcia Little, a laid-off server who is facing termination.

“For 12 years, I have served customers at Coast Bastion with pride. I thought I had a secure future here. I can’t believe that a hotel owned by a union pension fund would do this to us. How can this happen? We did nothing wrong. The government asked us to stay home because of COVID-19 and now it’s as if we’re being punished,” said Garry Constable, a long-term laid-off server.

“This is unacceptable. Coast is doing exactly what many hotel employers are doing around the province: getting rid of their long-term staff who can be replaced when business returns. Hotel owners and operators should not be allowed to get away with this. Hard-hit hospitality workers need a guarantee that they can return to their jobs once tourism comes back,” said Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40 President.

Coast also announced this week plans to terminate workers at Coast Victoria and Coast Inn of the North (Prince George).

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

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