Press Release: Big Union Customers Vow Not to Patronize Hilton Vancouver Metrotown

Vancouver, BC — A group of BC’s largest unions are pledging they will not patronize Hilton Vancouver Metrotown as long as the hotel refuses to guarantee its laid-off workers a right to return to their jobs. The BCTF, BCGEU, HEU, MoveUP, and PSAC-BC have declared they will not use the hotel or make future bookings there in response to the hotel’s mass pandemic firings of long-term workers.

Hilton Vancouver Metrotown has fired 90 long-term workers — most of whom are women and people of colour — without notice or cause. Workers recently launched the BC Unequal Women campaign to draw attention to the impact of pandemic firings on the hotel industry’s predominantly female workforce.

The five unions delivered the message to hotel management during the workers’ latest bargaining session. Unions are regular customers of this Hilton and account for a significant portion of its customer base. They typically book events far in advance and account for a steady stream of revenue for hotels looking to ramp up business when COVID-related travel restrictions are lifted.

Last month, Hilton Metrotown workers overwhelmingly voted in favour of a strike over the firings and began limited strike action. Workers are urging all customers to book elsewhere until the hotel agrees to return workers to their jobs as the economy restarts.

Quotes:

Teri Mooring, President, BCTF:
“The BC Teachers’ Federation and our 47,000 members stand in solidarity with UNITE HERE! Local 40 members. Consequently, we have decided to withdraw all Federation business from the Hilton Metrotown Hotel until workers, including those laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, are guaranteed recall rights and have achieved a fairly negotiated collective agreement. We have no interest in doing business with a corporation that appears to be attempting to use the pandemic to blatantly disregard the rights of unionized employees, who are primarily women and people of colour. Our hope is that our collective action sends a strong message to the Hilton Metrotown.”

Stephanie Smith, President, BCGEU:
“The BCGEU will refuse to book at the Hilton Metrotown as long as they use the pandemic as an excuse to eliminate the jobs of long-term staff, primarily women and persons of colour. On behalf of our more than 80,000 members, we stand shoulder to shoulder with hotel workers as they stand up to this attack on their livelihoods. We will direct all future bookings to hotels that commit to return workers to their jobs as tourism returns.”

Betty Valenzuela, Financial Secretary, Hospital Employees’ Union:
“These are difficult times for workers and businesses in many parts of the economy – and the impact on hotel workers has been particularly devastating. But things will get better, and we would have expected that the Hilton Metrotown would plan to return these workers to their jobs once business picks up. I’m disappointed to learn that this is not the case. We value our relationship with the Hilton Metrotown Hotel, but I want to be clear that we will withhold future bookings in the face of unjust treatment of these workers.”

Lori Mayhew, Secretary-Treasurer, MoveUP:
“This pandemic has reminded us how important it is to stick together. MoveUP is supporting the workers at the Hilton Metrotown who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If the Hilton Metrotown can’t respect their workers and guarantee their rights to return to their jobs, then we will take our business elsewhere.”

Jamey Mills, Regional Executive Vice-President of PSAC-BC:
“Our union has been a customer of the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown for many years. Our position is clear, we will not use the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, or consider future bookings at the hotel, until all workers laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic are guaranteed a right to return to their jobs once business returns.”

Media Contacts: Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356; 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.

PRESS RELEASE: Pan Pacific Vancouver Workers Question Hotel Over Expiring COVID-19 Layoff Extensions: Are You Firing More of Us as Recovery Nears?

Vancouver, BC – Today, laid-off Pan Pacific Vancouver workers held a protest urging the hotel to stop a fourth round of job cuts.  Over 200 Pan Pacific laid-off workers remain uncertain about their future at the hotel.  The hotel applied for a variance of B.C.’s temporary layoff provisions for only 16 workers, and their 13-week period is nearing a close. The Ministry of Labour has told workers they could soon be at risk of termination. Those affected by the expiring variance are just a few of the more than 200 workers who want to know why the hotel is leaving them in the dark.

After three rounds of mass firings, Pan Pacific applied for a variance to extend BC’s temporary layoff provisions to cover just 16 out of the more than 200 remaining laid off workers.  However, laid-off workers have sought answers about their expiring variance and why the hotel chose not to apply on behalf of all its laid-off staff.  Instead, the hotel has fired multiple groups of workers, many of whom are women of colour.

For months, the hotel has failed to inform workers or their union, UNITE HERE Local 40, of their current status.  The Union sent a letter to Pan Pacific last week requesting information about their plans for remaining workers.  Pan Pacific responded today to confirm that they sought variances for only 16 workers.

This comes after Pan Pacific fired approximately 100 long-term laid-off workers, without cause, in the middle of the pandemic. The hotel also urged workers to sign away their full-time status and their severance rights – then fired some of them anyway.  A class action lawsuit has been filed against the hotel on behalf of fired workers. Now the future of more than 200 Pan Pacific workers remains uncertain.

Rosario Luft, a public area attendant who has dedicated 27 years serving customers at Pan Pacific Vancouver, is worried she will be fired this week: “I’m a single mom and raised my son on this job. Pan Pacific isn’t telling me anything. So many of my co-workers have been fired already. After all my years of service and hard work, is the hotel planning to fire and replace me too?”

Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40, said: “Pan Pacific workers – many of them women who have worked here for nearly 30 years – deserve an answer.  Does Pan Pacific plan to fire more workers?  We won’t let this hotel get away with treating workers like they are disposable. Thousands of hotel workers – predominantly women – are losing their jobs in this industry.  They are demanding hotels commit to bring them back when the industry recovers.”

UNITE HERE Local 40 launched the Unequal Women campaign this month to spotlight hotels, like Pan Pacific Vancouver, who use the pandemic to eliminate jobs.  Hotels across the province are refusing to commit to bring back those who clean hotel rooms, cook meals, and serve guests as the industry recovers.

Pan Pacific Vancouver is owned by an affiliate of Westmont Hospitality Group, the world’s largest privately-owned hotel group.

Media Contacts: Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356; 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.

MEDIA ADVISORY: COVID-19 Layoff Extensions Expiring at Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel; Women ask Pan Pacific: Are You Firing More of Us as Recovery Nears?

Press Conference & Protest to be held Today at 12PM

Vancouver, BC — UNITE HERE Local 40 will hold a rally and press conference this Tuesday with Pan Pacific Vancouver hotel workers whose jobs are at risk despite COVID-19 layoff extensions.  The jobs of Pan Pacific workers who escaped earlier rounds of mass terminations may be on the chopping block this week.  The affected workers, many of them immigrant women who have worked at the hotel for up to 30 years, understood they were covered under a variance of B.C.’s temporary layoff provisions.  However, the Ministry of Labour informed them they could soon be terminated.  The hotel is owned by an affiliate of Westmont Hospitality Group, the world’s largest privately-owned hotel group.

WHAT: Pan Pacific Hotel workers press conference and rally.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 23 at 12PM (Pacific)

WHERE: Canada Place, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver

WHO: Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40, and Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel workers.

VISUALS: Hotel workers outside Pan Pacific Vancouver, holding colourful banners and signs and chanting with bullhorns, wearing masks and physically distanced.

CONTACT: Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356; 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.

PRESS RELEASE: Workers from Quarantine Hotel Ready to Strike: “PM Trudeau, will you cross our picket line when we strike, or will you say ‘no’ to unequal women in the hotel industry?”

Vancouver, B.C. — Today, workers from the federal quarantine hotel, Pacific Gateway, held a press conference to announce they have filed 72-hour strike notice and can take strike action at any time. Workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, filed the strike notice after Pacific Gateway terminated another round of long-term workers. The hotel, which was taken over by the federal government last spring, plans to eliminate most of its workforce, many of them immigrant women with up to 45 years on the job.

Pacific Gateway tried to block hotel workers’ right to file strike notice, but the BC Labour Relations Board dismissed the hotel’s challenges. This month, the hotel terminated nearly four dozen workers. Another 100 workers are expected to be terminated this month.

Workers have sought an agreement from the hotel that they be returned to their jobs as industry conditions improve. Despite the pending vaccine rollout and signs the industry will begin to recover this year, the hotel has refused. The hotel’s actions will disproportionately impact older immigrant women from South Asian, Chinese, and other communities who clean after, cook for, and serve hotel guests. Some of the workers were displaced when the federal government contracted with the Red Cross to replace hotel workers and perform similar job duties.

While the government recognizes that women and immigrants have borne the brunt of the pandemic, there has been no action to prevent hotel workers from losing their jobs on the government’s watch.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have one question for you: when we go on strike, will you cross our picket line, or will you join us in saying ‘no’ to unequal women in the hotel industry? I’m a single mom with two kids, ages 12 and 13 and about to lose my job. It’s clear the hotel doesn’t care about us – many of us women supporting families. The hotel wants to get rid of us and replace us with new hires at minimum wage,” said Elisa Cardona, laid-off hostess who has worked at Pacific Gateway for 7 years.

“Why is the federal government allowing this to happen?  The hotel wants to fire women who have worked at this hotel for over 40 years. There are so many of us who have families to support.  We worked hard to make these good jobs and now we are about to lose everything.  How many more of us are going to lose our jobs before Prime Minister Trudeau stands with us?” said Pardeep Thandi, laid-off room attendant for 27 years at the Pacific Gateway Hotel.

“Our federal and provincial governments look away while the hotel industry takes advantage of hotel workers – mostly women of colour – time and time again.  We won’t tolerate that. We have to stand up and fight back to make sure every hotel worker gets her job back when the industry recovers,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

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.

 

PRESS RELEASE: B.C. Hotel Workers Launch “Unequal Women” Campaign; Women Hotel Workers Push Back Against Pandemic Firings

Vancouver, BC – On International Women’s Day, UNITE HERE Local 40 held a press conference and rally at Jack Poole Plaza to announce a new campaign highlighting the impact of pandemic firings on British Columbia’s women hotel workers. The campaign – Unequal Women: 19th Century Treatment in 21st Century British Columbiafocuses on how B.C.’s hotel industry is refusing to bring back the women who clean hotel rooms, cook meals, and serve guests as the industry recovers.

Women, particularly women of colour, constitute the majority of hourly wage workers in the hotel sector and bear the brunt of pandemic firings. Hotels across B.C. including Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, Pacific Gateway, Pan Pacific Vancouver and many others have refused to commit to bring women back to their jobs as business returns. Instead, mass pandemic firings are being used to strip away economic gains made by women who served their hotels for decades. Women will face a smoother recovery if they are able to return to their pre-pandemic jobs.

“I’m a single mom with two kids, ages 12 and 13. It’s been a very stressful time figuring out how to take care of my family. My hotel was taken over by the federal government to quarantine travellers when the pandemic hit. The hotel is firing my laid-off co-workers and threatening to get rid of most of us by the end of March. The government should be doing more to make sure we don’t lose our jobs.  We can’t let the hotel industry set women back to an earlier era,” said Elisa Cardona, laid-off hostess at the Pacific Gateway Hotel.

For Jerty Gaa, a public area attendant who served Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel for 11 years before being fired, the impact of the pandemic was devastating: “I thought I was going to retire here – but the hotel used the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of us. I’m 54 years old so it’s hard for me to start again. I just want my job back when all this is over. What is the government doing to help us keep our jobs?”

Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40 President, said: “The hotel industry’s actions tell women they don’t matter. They want to keep women unequal – because unequal women in the hotel industry have no economic power and no voice. But this is the 21st century, not the 19th century. Women made BC’s hospitality industry successful – and women will fight for the right to be returned to their jobs.”

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, construction camps, and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.