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Downtown Vancouver hotel workers poised to strike

Workers at the Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront have voted to strike
The Westin Bayshore is one of three hotels where workers have voted to strike

Employers and tourists are bracing for what could be a strike at three downtown Vancouver hotels: the Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront.

A strike vote on the weekend saw about 65 per cent of workers at those hotels support job action. 

Management now awaits the next move by the union, Unite Here Local 40, as negotiations continue. 

"Our intention is to continue to engage the union in negotiations, as long as they're willing to do it," said Harris and Co. partner Israel Chafetz, who represents the employers through the Greater Vancouver Hotel Employers' Association.

"There's a gap between the parties that is yet to be bridged, and our belief is we should keep bargaining and reach a deal," Chafetz told BIV this afternoon. "That is our intention."

Sticking points include pay and job security.

"The exorbitant cost of living in Vancouver is making it harder for hospitality workers to live in the city to which they welcome tourists," the union said in a statement. 

"In a recent survey of local hotel workers conducted by the union, 89 per cent of hotel workers surveyed said they have had to give something up to afford their cost of living, such as family support or medical procedures."

Union data for that survey showed 46 per cent of respondents saying they had to forego fresh food to keep up with the rising cost of living. Alongside substantial wage increases, the workers are also asking for job security as they face the looming threat of hotel redevelopment to luxury housing, the union said.

Unite Here Local 40 workers at those hotels went on strike for 28 days in 2019 before ratifying an agreement that provided raises up to 25 per cent over four years, as well as other perks.

That 28-day strike started in September 2019 and caused loud picket lines that prompted management to file a successful lawsuit in BC Supreme Court that ended with an order for picketing workers not to use amplified sound or create noise that was louder than 75 decibels when at a distance of at least 6.1 meters.

The union also represents workers who are on strike at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport and Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport hotels in Richmond.

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