VICTORIA — Unifor is back at the bargaining table with the Empress Hotel to negotiate a collective agreement that can serve as a template for upcoming negotiations in the hospitality sector.
Inflation rates not seen in over a generation are causing hardship for families across the country. Unionized workers are using collective bargaining to protect and improve their standard of living. At the Empress Hotel, Unifor Local 4276 is prioritizing wages and housekeeping workloads. Injuries on the job are a common result of unrealistic workloads.
According to a government-sponsored labour-market report, the workforce has declined though staff cuts and layoffs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For every 1.6 permanent employees, one was laid off, and of those who were laid off, roughly one third did not return.
“Unifor is a strong union for hotel workers,” says Lana Payne, Unifor national president. “Unifor members are leading by example and negotiating industry-leading contracts. What happens this spring at the Empress will help lead the way for our other negotiations.”
“Hotels are struggling to hire and retain staff. Economic incentives will go a long way towards addressing this problem,” says Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western regional director. “B.C. can’t have a vibrant event-and-tourism sector without hotel workers.”
Unifor represents more than 8,000 workers in the hotel industry across Canada. In B.C., Unifor members work at hotels including the Fairmont Vancouver, the Hotel Grand Pacific, the Coast Coal Harbour and the Residence Inn.