More than 1,000 UNITE HERE Local 40, unionized hospitality workers across 14 communities – including Harrison Hot Springs – have ratified a new four-year agreement with Hospitality Industrial Relations, ending an 18-month-long negotiations stalemate.
According to a release from UNITE HERE Local 40, 80 per cent of hospitality workers in the union throughout B.C. voted to approve the new agreement with hotel management company HIR. The agreement includes an extension of recall rights for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic through July 1, 2023 or when the World Health Organization declares the pandemic is over.
In addition to specifically recall rights for the COVID-19 pandemic, the union also won unlimited recall rights for future crises including pandemics and natural disasters and longer recall protection for regular season layoffs.
In late April, workers at HIR properties across the province, including Harrison Hot Springs Resort, faced a lockout notice from the B.C. Labour Relations Board following a then-unresolved labour dispute with the management company. UNITE HERE Local 40 representatives feared 32 employers across the province would rather fire current staff and replace them when travel and tourism restrictions lifted.
Additionally, the union noted the lockout would disproportionately affect women and people of colour, who make up a majority of the hospitality workforce.
“It feels incredible to have been part of this huge victory, after so many months of fighting against the industry,” said Jan Budd, an employee of Holiday Inn and Suites Vancouver Downtown. “I can breathe a sigh of relief now knowing that I won’t have to start all over again at minimum wage. HIR finally respected our years of service, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back at work again as business eventually recovers.”
Budd, a kitchen helper for more than 30 years, previously spoke at a province-wide press conference organized by UNITE HERE Local 40.
The new contract covers hospitality workers in Harrison Hot Springs, Vancouver, Coquitlam, Richmond, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Castlegar, Port Alberni, Mackenzie, Prince Rupert and Fort St. John.