More than 200 workers at Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia went on strike September 22, and they plan to remain on strike for an “indefinite” period of time, according to their union. The workers join nearly 1,000 counterparts who went on strike September 19 at the Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront.
No bargaining is currently taking place between the union, Unite Here Local 40, and management at any of the four hotels.
“Without a contract for eight months, the workers are demanding respect and working conditions which match the five-star service they provide on a daily basis to the hotel’s clientele," said union spokesperson Sharan Pawa.
The Rosewood Hotel Georgia sent BIV a statement saying that it is committed "to achieving a fair and reasonable collective agreement that protects the rights and improves the wages and working conditions of employees."
It added that it is proposing to include panic buttons for employees who work in food and beverage, as well as in housekeeping. That initiative is to address concerns that some employees have voiced about sexual harassment being a problem at the 92-year-old hotel.
The hotel is also committed to create the position of a safety representative, who would work 15 hours per week for three months to investigate safety, discrimination and harassment issues in the workplace. It is also willing to have a permanent committee that has representatives from the union and from management provide recommendations to ensure a safe workplace free of harassment.
BIV went to the hotel and spoke with picketers as well as guests and a corporate client on that day. Hyatt Regency workers are in the same bargaining collective as those at the Westin Bayshore and the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront, All of those workers have been without a contract for about 14 months.
The Hyatt’s vice-president of labour relations for the Americas has sent BIV several statements, with the most recent one being on September 21.
This was the first statement in which he dove into specifics of the bargaining.
“Hyatt, along with the other members of the GVHEA [Greater Vancouver Hotel Employers’ Association,] has proposed a 15% pay increase over a four-year period, which is unprecedented for hospitality workers in Vancouver,” he said. “We also indicated that Hyatt Regency Vancouver would agree to stronger health and safety resources, including personal distress devices.”
The union, he said, has rejected these offers. He added that his team met with the union 26 times since early 2018 with the intent to come to a fair agreement.
During those meetings, the union, “made little-to-no movement toward an agreement.”
Pawa, in contrast, said the workers at the Hyatt and the other two hotels that launched job action last week are “fighting for safe and sustainable jobs.”
She added that “workload issues remain a priority in this labour dispute – the systemic cutting of hours in a growing hotel industry has left employees with unsafe and unsustainable workload levels, while expectations for top-tier service in Vancouver continues to rise.”
Workers at the Four Seasons Hotel are also without a contract but no strike action is expected because the hotel plans to close permanently in January.