What happened: Nearly 1,000 workers at the Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront walked off the job September 19 in what the union is calling an open-ended strike
Why it matters: These are three of Vancouver’s larger and higher-end hotels and a strike could disrupt thousands of travellers’ plans while cracking the city’s image as a good tourism destination
The escalation in job action follows a noon-hour strike on September 17, which also included some workers from the Hotel Georgia. Those workers are in the same union, Unite Here Local 40, but are in a different bargaining collective and so far have not gone on strike. Hotel Georgia workers have already voted to provide strike notice and therefore could go on strike at any time. BIV called and emailed a spokesperson for the Hotel Georgia but has not received a response.
Workers at Vancouver's Four Seasons Hotel are also without a contract but no strike action is expected there because the hotel is set to close permanently in January.
The workers now on strike have been without a contract since mid-2018, with union representatives unsuccessfully bargaining with hotel counterparts.
The union said in a statement to Business in Vancouver that “significant outstanding issues related to workload, safety and job security” need to be addressed.
It added that room attendants, chefs, front desk agents and other staff of the hotels are holding downtown strike actions for the first time in nearly two decades.
The goal of the action is to obtain “safe, stable and sustainable jobs,” according to the union.
Some workers have alleged sexual harassment on the job and have tried to make that an issue in the bargaining even though hotel representatives have been clear that they do not tolerate sexual harassment.
The Hyatt Regency yesterday (September 18) sent BIV a statement from Michael D’Angelo, vice-president, labor relations for the Americas.
He said that the Hyatt Regency is “disappointed” that it has not been able to reach a contract with the union and that negotiations were continuing. Now that there is strike action, it is not clear if negotiations are still ongoing.
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.”