On June 15th 2011, members of UNITE HERE Local 75 rallied at the Metropolitan Hotel in the heart of Toronto’s Chinatown. Without a new collective agreement for over a year, the workers to the streets in pursuit of the same standard their Local 75 sisters and brothers have already achieved in many other major hotels in the GTA.
Hotel workers are the invisible backbone of the service sector. Over a number of collective agreements, Local 75 members have achieved a citywide standard that includes safer working conditions, greater job security, and decent wages and benefits. Job security is a key stumbling block in negotiations at the hotel.
"We can’t have people who have worked here for years come to work one day to find out they’re now part-time or working split shifts," says Sherma Regis, a Room Attendant at the Metropolitan Hotel. "How are we supposed to organize our lives around these kinds of conditions?"
"Hotels are a crucial part of the growing service sector in Toronto, and this is where a lot of women and new immigrants to Canada start out. If these jobs are going to be the backbone of our economy, they need to be liveable," says Ana Cunha, another Room Attendant at the Metropolitan Hotel. "Hotel jobs are still too difficult to give up anything we’ve already achieved. We won’t go backwards in this round of negotiations, not here, not anywhere."