For immediate release
October 20, 2004
416-510-0887 x 238
Lockout follows workers' demand to keep their tips
Toronto, October 18, 2004. 150 hotel workers planned to begin their workday at the Airport Hilton with a peaceful one-hour march to demand parity with other Toronto hotel workers. When they arrived, they found that the hotel had locked them out.
“This lockout is outrageous!” said UNITE HERE Local 75 President Paul Clifford. “Our members are asking only for the same improvements that other hotel workers have negotiated: a retirement allowance, decent wage increases and working conditions.”
One concern that stands out in this dispute is the fact that the Airport Hilton does not distribute tips earned by its workers.
“The hotel charges banquet customers a 15% gratuity, but then keeps it for itself,” explained chief negotiator Paul Clifford. The Airport Hilton pays servers a flat rate, while most other union hotels in Toronto pass on gratuities to their employees.
After five months of negotiation, union members voted 90% in favour of authorizing a strike on September 3rd. On October 4th, the union filed charges accusing the Airport Hilton of negotiating in bad faith, as the hotel refused to disclose the monetary worth of the gratuities it retained. Union members began informational leafleting in support of parity last Friday.
“Given that the company has not yet even given their final offer, we see this action as an offensive attempt to deny our workers parity with other hotel workers,” said Clifford. “At the same time, the hotel has avoided disclosing exactly how much money they are making, then clawing back the gratuities they collect in our members’ names.”
The Hilton Group Plc, the ultimate owner of the Hilton Airport, saw its profits from hotels increase by 19.6% to 67.1 million pounds ($ 154 million CAD) last year.