Hundreds of Cara Flight Kitchen workers at the Vancouver Airport have a new union contract. A big victory for Cara workers, the new contract includes a 10% wage increase over 3 years for everyone and a 13% wage increase for the lowest job classifications. Also in the contract: pension contribution increases of over 35%, significant improvements to health care including a doubling of the vision benefit, increase in the dental reimbursement from 80% to 90% and increases in paramedical benefits (acupuncture, physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage therapy). All of this comes during a time when the airline industry is in real economic distress.
“Even though the economy is difficult, we won a fair contract. I feel good this time about the committee. The process was open, anyone could say what they wanted, and we worked together from our hearts to win our contract,” said Tian Ye.
More Cara rank and file organizing committee leaders participated in this round of bargaining than ever before.
“I feel proud and stronger than ever with our contract. We are more united as members of Local 40. We started early, we developed a good organizing team, getting all the members educated and involved,” said Eddie Tang.
More than 80% of Cara workers ratified the new contract on Tuesday.
On July 22, over 600 hotel workers and supporters shut down Burrard Street to protest Hyatt Corporation’s greed and cutbacks. The Vancouver workers joined hotel workers in 15 cities across North America in a series of coordinated Hyatt protests taking place on the same day.
Starting with a loud picket line on the sidewalk in front of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver at 5pm, the crowd began to grow rapidly as workers came streaming out of the Hyatt at shift end. Chanting fiercely, hotel workers from downtown Vancouver hotels were joined by Local 40 members from around the Lower Mainland, labour unions, community groups and elected leaders. Before long, a sea of more than 600 red UNITE HERE tee-shirts were picketing the entire length of the block between Georgia and Melville.
At a signal from Local 40 marshals, the red-shirts poured onto Burrard Street and brought traffic to a halt. From the opposite side of the street, 50 workers in uniform marched hand in hand across the width of Burrard, then sat down in the street, chanting, backed up by the boisterous picket line behind them that stretched around the perimeter of Burrard. A “Shame on Hyatt” banner was unfurled, drums beat, voices were raised in anger and empowerment, while pedestrians looked on with amazement.
The Vancouver hotel workers’ first civil disobedience action was a spectacular success, delivering a loud and dramatic message to Hyatt Corporation that workers can’t be pushed around or pushed out while wealthy global corporations keep increasing their profits.
UNITE HERE Local 40 members had amazing support from labour unions and community groups at the July 22 action. Sisters and brothers from CAW, HEU, CUPE, COPE 378, BC Ferryworkers, ILWU, Building Trades, VDLC, BC Fed, PWC, Migrante, CCPA, First Call and many other organizations provided vital solidarity to the Hyatt protesters. Thank you all!!
1200 trade unionists from all over the world, in Vancouver for the ITUC World Congress, got to hear Mei Mei Miao, a banquet worker at the Four Seasons Hotel talk about the hotel workers’ fight for secure jobs and better working conditions. Mei Mei received an enthusiastic standing ovation for her presentation from the 1200 ITUC delegates who were in Vancouver to discuss global issues affecting workers. Addressing the Congress on June 22, Mei Mei talked about her experience as an immigrant worker working for a global hotel company, “We come here from all over the world to make a better life for ourselves and our families. We take pride in our work and enjoy taking care of customers. Yet these companies that are making huge profits keep cutting our jobs. Many of my co-workers are doing the jobs of 2 or 3 people. We can’t afford to get sick. We can’t afford to retire. Many of us can’t afford to live in Vancouver, so we live far away. We just want to be respected and feel good about taking care of our families.”
(Mei Mei Miao, a banquet worker at the Four Seasons Hotel and Local 40 member, receives a standing ovation from 1200 ITUC delegates for her presentation on Hotel Workers Rising.)
Hyatt workers across North America marched, rallied and protested today to focus attention on Hyatt Corporation’s treatment of its employees. Here in Vancouver, Hyatt workers were joined by Westin Bayshore, Renaissance, Four Seasons, Delta Vancouver Airport and Hilton Metrotown workers who all have expiring contracts this month. Local 40 members from GM Place, Host, Cara, Coast Plaza and many HIR hotels also came out to support. Friends of Local 40–labour unions, community groups and elected officials–also joined in the boisterous rally and march that began at the Hyatt and ended at the Renaissance Hotel. On the steps of the Renaissance, workers from each of the GVHEA hotels spoke out to demand the hotel companies stop squeezing workers and cutting jobs while hotel company profits are increasing. Local 40 members made it loud and clear today: we’re ready to fight!
Thanks to all our friends at HEU, USW, COPE 378, CAW, BCTF, UFCW and CUPE for bringing your colours and spirit to our rally!