VANCOUVER-Today Stephanie Smith, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), and a group of BCGEU members, joined UNITE HERE Local 40 members on the picket line at the Westin Bayshore to announce that the BCGEU-one of BC's largest and fastest growing unions-is supporting the strike with a $3 million interest-free loan.
In September more than 1,200 UNITE HERE Local 40 members initiated the first strike at downtown Vancouver hotels in two decades. Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action after 14 months of bargaining with the Hyatt Regency, the Westin Bayshore and the Pinnacle Harbourfront and eight months of bargaining with the Rosewood Hotel Georgia failed to result in collective agreements that would address workplace safety, job security and fair compensation for hotel workers.
Since the beginning of the strike UNITE HERE Local 40's high energy, high visibility picket lines have attracted support from the general public, attention from the media and complaints from hotel management about the noise and disruption caused by striking members. But the union's contract demands remain unmet and their fight for a better future for all hotel workers continues.
With almost 80,000 members, the BCGEU is one of the largest and fastest growing unions in the province. The BCGEU's provincial executive-which is the union's governing body between policy conventions-voted unanimously in favour of making an interest-free loan in the amount of $3 million available for UNITE HERE Local 40 to access to support the hotel strike.
Stephanie Smith, President, BCGEU
"Strikes are powerful tools-they disrupt employers' operations, they get the public engaged in workers' rights and they build solidarity-but they cost money. This loan will help make sure that UNITE HERE Local 40 members can afford to stay out on strike as long as it takes to achieve collective agreements that give them the safety, stability and fair compensation they deserve."
"The BCGEU, like other unions, has supported this strike from the beginning by joining the picket lines and by cancelling bookings and refusing to attend events at these four hotels. I'm proud to be here on behalf of 80,000 members of the BCGEU as the first union to offer financial support to UNITE HERE Local 40 as their fight for a better future continues. I know we won't be the last."
Zailda Chan, President, UNITE HERE Local 40
"We are overwhelmed by the level of support BCGEU is extending to our 1,200 striking hotel members. This will send a strong message to the real estate developers and U.S. corporations who own and operate the hotels our members work for in this city. We are determined to make change in the hospitality industry, and BCGEU's support will only redouble our fight to improve the lives of Vancouver's hotel workers."
Danielle Marchand, BCGEU
Sharan Pawa, UNITE HERE Local 40