For immediate release
November 17, 2005
On Wednesday, November 16, 2005 the workers at the Fairmont Royal York voted to ratify a renewed three-year collective agreement. It covers virtually all the frontline service staff – 850 cooks, stewards, room attendants, housepersons, servers, laundry, bell, door, valet, switchboard and bartenders.
“This agreement is good for Royal York workers, good for the city’s hotel industry and good for Toronto. It contains a fair wage increase, excellent benefits, a more humane workload, and the promise of better jobs for current and future hotel workers,” says Paul Clifford, President, UNITE HERE Local 75. Wage increases ranged from 9.3% to 10.5% over three years, with the lowest paid non-gratuity classifications getting the larger raises. In response to the Union’s “Stop the Pain” campaign, the workload for room attendants was reduced and Health and Safety provisions strengthened.
The Fairmont Royal York contract sets new, higher standards for thousands of the city’s hotel workers. For example, all Royal York workers are eligible for an employer subsidized TTC pass, which saves about $20 per month off the cost of the transit pass. “This benefit helps not only workers, but also increases ridership on the TTC and supports public transit. It helps the urban environment, which in turn makes our city more attractive to tourists,” said Paul Clifford.
The contract also contains breakthrough provisions for recruitment, promotions and training. The Union established, through collective bargaining, the Equal Opportunity Training Fund. “We learned during SARS, that so many workers were frustrated in not being able to afford to upgrade their skills and move up. Finally we’ve achieved the means to do this with this Training Fund” added Paul Clifford.
On January 31, 2006, 4000 workers at 23 Toronto hotels will also be in contract negotiations with major hotel companies. “This Royal York agreement gives us hope that decent standards can be achieved without a full-scale labour dispute that could throw the City’s hotel industry into turmoil”, said Paul Clifford.