Workers at four downtown Vancouver hotels hold lunchtime strike

Unite Here Local 40 workers at the Hyatt Regency, Hotel Georgia, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront hotels are without contracts

hyatt strike
Workers at Vancouver's Hyatt Regency carried picket signs at betwen noon and 1 p.m. on September 17 | @UniteHere40

What happened: Workers at Hyatt Regency, Hotel Georgia, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront hotels held a noon-hour picket line at the Hyatt Regency to highlight frustration at being without a collective agreement for up to 14 months.

Why this matters: Strike action could escalate and hit Vancouver's tourism sector

Following today's first strike action, the workers went back to work.

Workers at the Hyatt Regency, Pinnacle Hotel Harbourside and Westin Bayshore are in one bargaining collective, and they have been without a contract since mid-2018.

Workers at the Hotel Georgia saw their contract expire at the end of December 2018. Workers at the Four Seasons Hotel are also in the same union, Unite Here Local 40, and are without a contract but they are not planning to strike because their hotel is set to close permanently in January 2020.

More than 1,000 workers at the hotels voted 89% in August to potentially strike, according to the union.

Workers at the Hotel Georgia announced potential strike notice in August and workers at the Hyatt followed that up on September 9. Workers at the other hotels issued potential strike notice later last week. 

Conference organizers for the Rail-Volution Conference, which took place at the Hyatt on September 9 through 11, kept attendees updated on possible disruptions even though no strike action could have been possible at their hotel until the day following their conference.

Events such as the September 16 International Cannabis Business Conference went off without a hitch at the Westin Bayshore.

Bargaining is ongoing for workers at the Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Hotel Harbourside, with talks expected to go on into tonight.

No bargaining is taking place for workers at the Hotel Georgia, according to union spokesperson Sharan Pawa. This hotel is the only one that has threatened to lock out its workers, she added.

"This action we're hoping will wake them up to the fact that the workers are not going to accept a contract that they do not think is fair," Pawa told Business in Vancouver. "If the workers do not receive a fair proposal in bargaining, there may be more strike actions taking place."

The Hyatt Regency sent BIV a statement from Michael D’Angelo, vice-president, labor relations for the Americas.

The statement said that the Hyatt Regency is "disappointed" that it has not been able to reach a contract with the union and that negotiations are continuing. 

D'Angelo called the workers "the heart of our business," and said he respects their right to voice their opinions. 

The hotel, he said, has implemented contingency plans to allow for continued operations and a positive guest experience.

"Hyatt Regency Vancouver, like all Hyatt properties across North America, offers competitive wages and benefits to our colleagues, including comprehensive healthcare, various wellbeing initiatives and generous retirement contributions," he said. "We remain committed to fostering a safe, inclusive workplace that earns an average colleague tenure of more than 12 years and consistent third-party recognition."