On January 4, 300 HMS Host workers at the Vancouver Airport (YVR) received notice that the company was prepared to lock them out within 72 hours. Host workers have been working without a union contract since March 2009. The lockout notice came unprovoked. Workers had not taken a strike vote or job action.
Surprisingly, Host is prepared to lock out 300 food service workers on the eve of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. YVR will see record traffic from Olympics visitors in the month of February during the 3 weeks of the Olympics and as well as before and after the Games. The Host workers affected by the lockout notice work at 18 food, beverage and retail outlets at YVR. Host committee leader Uli De la Rosa said, "we are the ambassadors for the Olympics visitors. We are the first ones visitors see when they come to Vancouver."
Host workers are fighting for job security, better wages and improved benefits eligibility. Sixty workers at a Milestones Restaurant operated by Host at YVR will lost their jobs immediately after the Olympics when Host closes the restaurant and opens a White Spot restaurant nearby. Host has told workers the White Spot will be non-union. Wages are also a big issue as many Host workers start at little more than minimum wage.
Host committee leader and Tim Horton’s cashier, Cora Asiatico commented on the lockout notice, "it’s like a slap in the face. All the hard work we put in, it’s going to be down the drain. But we will not be bullied. They can’t hold a gun to our heads and say ‘that’s it for you’."
Committee leader Kam Ram, working at YVR for 19 years said, "I never expected this from the company. But we are fighters, we are going to fight for this. Those are our brothers and sisters at Milestones. We have to support them for their job security. What’s happening to them can affect any of us."
On January 9, Host workers held an emergency membership meeting and voted unanimously to defy the lockout threat and stay strong on their contract demands. In preparation for lockout, the Host committee has signed up their co-workers for picket duty shifts.
Visit Unite Here Local 40’s website for more information.