For immediate release
September 12, 2010
Lack of respect spurs hotel worker strike at Hyatt Regency
No progress in bargaining from TIFF hotel headquarters
TORONTO–Hotel workers at the Hyatt Regency, home of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, have staged another one-day walkout today, angered that the hotel is showing no respect for its workers.
"As TIFF celebrates the new Bell Lightbox with a street party for Torontonians, and the Hyatt boosts its profits with film guests this week, we continue to be treated like second-class citizens by the Hyatt owners," said Althea Porter-Harvey, a Room Attendant at the hotel. "We deserve better than that. We’re joining the street party today."
Between 11 am and 1 pm, the Hyatt strikers invite the public to join in a range of festival-related activities, including an "alternative red carpet," which will be spread out on the picket line in front of the hotel; an opportunity to "take your photo with a local celebrity: a Hyatt Striker!" and a strike fundraiser where supporters can buy a Local 75 T-shirt or a recent documentary on the activities of the family running Hyatt hotels, the Pritzker family.
The hotel, which is owned by the Westmont Group, has made no move to address any of the hotel worker concerns since a one-day strike on September 3rd at the hotel, according to UNITE HERE Local 75, which represents the hotel workers.
"We exercised restraint and have provided quality service at Toronto hotels owned by Westmont through the G20, the Queen’s visit, Pride Week and Caribana," added Porter-Harvey. "Westmont has had ample time to sit down and negotiate with us as contracts have expired, but they’ve chosen to ignore us and treat us with disrespect."
The hotel workers, who also staged a one-day strike at the Westmont-owned Fairmont Royal York last Friday, have earned the full support of the film sector including ACTRA Toronto, IATSE Local 873 and film celebrities including Martin Sheen.
"We all recognize that the film sector and the hospitality industry are very important players in this city’s economic recovery," said ACTRA Toronto President Heather Allin. "And we are going to continue supporting these workers until they get a fair contract."
Last week, the hotel workers sent a letter to TIFF Festival chief Piers Handling outlining that the workers have "always been there for the Toronto International Film Festival and supported cultural tourism in the city. However when a hotel like the Hyatt stands to make significant profits from the event, we believe that hotel workers should not be shut out of those rewards and treated like second class citizens by global giants who have set up shop in our city."
In both Canada and the U.S., the hotel industry is rebounding faster and stronger than expected but hotel workers are not sharing in that improved fortune, according to the union. Local 75 represents over 7,000 hotel, hospitality and gaming workers in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information, please visit www.uniteherelocal75.org.