For immediate release
December 20, 2010
Vancouver Hotel Workers Ratify New Contract
New Agreement Ends Boycott at Hyatt Regency Vancouver; Achieves Wage, Benefit Gains
Burnaby, British Columbia – On Friday, December 17, hotel workers overwhelmingly ratified a new four-year collective agreement reached earlier in the week with the Greater Vancouver Hotel Employers Association (GVHEA). The agreement comes after months of demonstrations, street actions, and a boycott launched earlier this fall against the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. The terms of the agreement contain improvements in pensions and benefits, housekeeping workload and wage increases. Workers voted 85% in favour of the new deal. The previous contract expired in June.
Hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, achieved significant improvements in health benefits, including the goal of expanding workers’ year-around access to medical coverage. This means fewer hotel workers and their families will risk losing their benefits during part of the year. Workers also secured greater dental coverage for their families.
"One of the most important gains we made was improving eligibility for health care benefits. Now more of our co-workers will keep their extended health care and dental benefits during slower parts of the year. I am also happy we won housekeeping workload relief which means housekeepers will no longer have to skip their breaks to finish rooms, can rely less on painkillers, and actually get to enjoy the time they spend with their families after work – instead of losing that time due to pain," said Nadeen Abenes, a Hyatt room attendant and member of the union bargaining committee.
Improved retirement security was another major goal. Workers secured the largest pension increase they have negotiated to date in any previous GVHEA contract. This was a victory for the many long-term workers who have given 15, 20, and some, 30 years or more, of service to these hotels.
Housekeepers achieved further workload improvements – particularly for those with the most challenging workloads. Workers also secured improvements in rights and other protections, in addition to wage increases of $1.84/hour over the life of the contract. The new agreement also means that the boycott against the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, which was launched on September 21, has now been lifted. Group customers have shown support for the Hyatt workers during the boycott in recent months by moving their events to other area hotels. Customers are now encouraged to return to the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. The other three hotels are no longer at risk of boycotts.
The new agreement covers approximately 1,600 workers at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, Westin Bayshore, Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside, and the Four Seasons and extends through June 30, 2014.
UNITE HERE Local 40 represents thousands of hospitality workers throughout British Columbia, Canada.