To Have and to Hold? Hilton Metrotown Workers Stage Demonstration to Urge Prospective Newlyweds Not to Get Married at Hotel

Burnaby, BC — Today on Valentine’s Day, locked out Hilton Metrotown hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, set up a picket line in front of a mock wedding outside the hotel, to urge couples to  “put a ring on it” somewhere else. During the pandemic, Hilton Metrotown management terminated 97 long-term staff, and locked out the rest on April 15, 2021. Workers have been on the picket line for nearly 10 months.

Hilton Metrotown is a popular wedding destination for Burnaby locals looking to tie the knot. While Hilton Metrotown has promoted To Have & To Hold, an “all inclusive intimate wedding ceremony” package for customers, workers are describing a much different story at the hotel where they’ve been locked out of their jobs.

“Don’t put a ring on it at Hilton Metrotown. I worked as a room attendant for 15 years at this hotel until management locked me out in 2021, after firing 97 of my co-workers. I urge you to tie the knot at a venue that respects workers,” said Jaswinder Bassi.

“I met the love of my life at this hotel, where he worked as a chef and I as a night auditor. We are incensed at Hilton Metrotown’s actions. Would you get married at a hotel that disrespects working people?” said Liza Secretaria, who served the hotel for almost 22 years.

The B.C. Federation of Labour has endorsed a boycott of Hilton Vancouver Metrotown. UNITE HERE Local 40 launched a website last spring to call attention to how hotels have used the pandemic to roll back the clock on women’s economic security. The Union is urging couples to choose other venues that respect workers by visiting our Travel Alert webpage, https://www.bcunequalwomen.org/bc-travel-alert/.

For more information, please 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 and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.

Wedding Media Advisory: Locked Out Hilton Metrotown Workers Urge Wedding Planners and Couples, “Don’t Put a Ring on It at Hilton!”

WHAT: Locked out Hilton Metrotown hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, will set up a picket line in front of a mock wedding to inform prospective newlyweds about unfair working conditions at the high-end hotel. This wedding season, locked out Hilton Vancouver Metrotown workers are urging couples who are thinking of getting married at the hotel to tie the knot somewhere else. 

WHERE: Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, 6083 McKay Avenue, Burnaby

WHEN: TODAY, February 14 @ 12:00 pm 

WHO: Locked out Hilton Metrotown workers and community allies.

WHY: The Hilton Vancouver Metrotown is a popular wedding destination for couples looking to tie the knot. While the hotel promotes itself as a socially responsible hotel, workers describe a different story behind the scenes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hilton Metrotown management terminated 97 long-term hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, cooks, servers, front desk, and other staff. Shortly afte r, they locked out the rest on April 15, 2021. The hotel wants to eliminate daily room sanitizing, which raises worker safety concerns, and is seeking major concessions. Workers have been on the picket line for 11 months.

VISUALS: Street theater featuring a picket line in front of two locked out workers dressed up as a bride and groom, who are getting married in front of the hotel. Locked out workers with hand-painted signs and a banner saying, “Don’t put a ring on it at Hilton Metrotown!”

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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.

 

After Months of Protests, Feds End Quarantine Program at Pacific Gateway

Owner of quarantine hotel that terminated 143 workers during pandemic faces boycott

Vancouver, B.C. – Amid months of protests and calls to move out, the federal government has ended its quarantine program at Pacific Gateway Hotel and relocated to another site. Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) which oversees the federal quarantine program is no longer using the hotel effective February 1. Pacific Gateway workers had urged the Trudeau government to stop subsidizing the hotel after 143 long-term staff were terminated.

The workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, met with MPs, testified before parliamentary committees, and held protests urging federal ministers and PHAC to end the government’s use of the hotel after 70% of the hotel staff, mostly women and immigrants, were terminated. The mass firings during the hotel’s temporary use as a federal quarantine facility upended economic security for workers already hard-hit by the pandemic.

Workers went on strike in May 2021 in response to the hotel’s mass terminations and efforts to erode living wage jobs during a public health crisis. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, NDP Health Critic Don Davies and other NDP and Conservative MPs had publicly questioned federal ministers over the government’s use of Pacific Gateway.

“Finally, the federal government has heard our calls to move out of Pacific Gateway. We asked MPs across the political spectrum and PHAC to stop bankrolling the hotel. I worked there for 28 years, but the owners took advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and terminated most of us. That’s not right. No one should spend money at a hotel that treats us like we’re disposable,” said Jillian Louie, a former Pacific Gateway server.

PHAC took over the hotel in March 2020 under a quarantine order enacted by former federal Health Minister, Patty Hajdu. The government displaced some hotel staff when they brought in contractors. Over 140 workers were later terminated instead of being allowed to return as regular business operations resume. A hotel housekeeper filed a human rights complaint against Pacific Gateway over the adverse impact of the firings on women, particularly women of colour.

UNITE HERE Local 40 is urging prospective customers to boycott Pacific Gateway by eating, sleeping, and meeting at alternative venues. The B.C. Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress have urged affiliates and the traveling public to not do business with the hotel.

 

For more information, please contact:  Stephanie Fung, [email protected] or 604-928-7356, or Michelle Travis, [email protected] or 778-960-9785.

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ATCO Valemount Camp Joins UNITE HERE Local 40 After Labour Board Dismisses Employer Challenges to Vote

BC Camp Workers’ Union on the Rise

Valemount, BC — ATCO camp workers in Valemount have voted by nearly 90% to join UNITE HERE Local 40. Workers at Valemount Camp voted in late July to join the union despite the employer’s efforts to block the vote. The Labour Board dismissed the employer’s challenges and ordered the votes to be unsealed and counted. This final decision sends a strong message that during the middle of the pandemic, camp workers are standing up to improve their working conditions.

ATCO Valemount Camp, which consists of around 60 hospitality and culinary staff such as chefs and housekeepers, is one of the first groups of camp hospitality workers to vote to unionize on the Trans Mountain pipeline, and the first unionized ATCO camp on the Trans Mountain pipeline. 

“This 90% vote for the union goes to show that us ATCO workers were really united and wanted a change in our lives. I’m very proud and pleased that we got together and made it happen as a team. I feel there’s more stability now. With what my pay rate is now, being able to negotiate for what we deserve is exciting. I support myself and my brother, and it feels good knowing that I can bargain to raise my wages to help him and save money for the future,” said Levi Gerlib, a General Helper at ATCO Valemount Camp.

UNITE HERE Local 40 welcomes ATCO Valemount workers, who will join nearly 330 other camp members. BC’s camp workers’ union is growing; in 2019, 130 Civeo and Horizon North Kitimat camp workers joined UNITE HERE Local 40. Kitimat LNG janitors and Parsnip camp workers joined the union in 2020. Living costs have risen dramatically in communities across BC. Better wages and benefits will be life-changing for many workers at Valemount, who intend to begin negotiations as soon as possible. 

Media Contact:

Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [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: UNITE HERE Local 40 Questions Province’s Eligibility Rules for New $15-million Tourism Relief Fund

Union urges province to disqualify hotel owners who eliminated staff during pandemic

Vancouver, B.C. — UNITE HERE Local 40 is urging Premier John Horgan and Tourism Minister Melanie Mark to tighten eligibility rules for hotels seeking property tax relief through a new pandemic relief fund.  In a letter to the Premier and Minister Mark, the Union urges the province to disqualify hotel employers who terminated workers during the pandemic from eligibility and asks whether the province will grant property tax relief to hotel owners that use tax havens.

On Friday, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture announced a new $15 million relief program, the Tourism Accommodation and Commercial Recreation Relief Fund.  One of the three funding streams will provide large hotel owners with a property tax break of 25%, up to a maximum of $500,000.  To be eligible, hotel owners must have employed 150 workers or more in 2019.  However, some hotels that stand to benefit eliminated staff during the pandemic.

Pacific Gateway Hotel near Vancouver Airport employed more than 200 workers before the pandemic. Hotel management terminated over 140 workers last year rather than commit to return them to their jobs when business returns. The hotel is co-owned by PHI Hotel Group and Van-Air Holdings Ltd, an offshore company based in the Bahamas, a tax haven jurisdiction.

The Union also wants to ensure major B.C. hotel owners like Westmont Hospitality Group will be ineligible based on current rules that require majority owners to be B.C. residents.   Westmont affiliates own Pan Pacific Vancouver, Fairmont Waterfront, and JW Marriott Parq, each of which terminated workers during the pandemic.  Westmont is based in Mississauga and Houston.

“Rather the padding the bottom lines of wealthy corporations and developers that own hotels, the province should ensure government funded relief is directed to employers who commit to return pre-pandemic staff to their jobs. Otherwise, the province will be financially rewarding wealthy employers who undercut the most vulnerable during a public health crisis. Women, particularly women of colour, continue to bear the economic brunt of pandemic job losses in B.C.’s hotel sector,” said Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE Local 40.

For more information, please contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected], or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

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