For immediate release
July 2, 2013
UNITE HERE's "sectoral" approach sets powerful precedent, workers say
Toronto–Members UNITE HERE Local 75, the union for hospitality workers in Toronto, ratified the first two of its 2014 collective agreements, seven months before their expiry date.
Workers at both the Hilton Toronto Downtown and the Hilton Toronto Airport have ratified their new agreements, covering nearly 500 workers, with over 94% in support.
UNITE HERE members in five other major hotel cities, all part of UNITE HERE’s Hotel Workers Rising movement, are also ratifying new agreements with Hilton. This is evidence of the strength of a North American sectoral organizing approach in hospitality.
The Hilton agreements in Toronto and Mississauga include significant breakthroughs: approximately 10.5% in wage increases over four years, increases to health and welfare and pension funding, job security protections, an innovative labour-management partnership around food and beverage operations and no concessions.
"The next citywide hotel standard is now set," said Abu Azam, chief shop steward of the Downtown Hilton. "Hospitality workers across the city will now come together to make sure that every one of our hotels meets this standard."
"I came to Canada to build a better life for myself and my family. Almost all of my co-workers have done the same," said Carlos Almeida, a shop steward at the Airport Hilton. "By working together across North America, we’re creating good jobs that will benefit our families and our communities."
"We feel this is a historic moment," said Margaret Benjamin, a long-time leader at the Downtown Hilton. "We have stood up over and over again across North America for fairness and dignity in the hotel sector. Many of us had to strike in the last round. It is nice to see at least one company step up to the plate and do what’s right."
Contracts for over 3800 additional workers represented by Local 75 employed at 28 hotels expire in the GTA in 2014. UNITE HERE represents 275,000 hotel, hospitality, gaming, food service and other workers across North America. With 100,000 of those members working in hotels, it is one of the largest hotel workers’ unions in the world.