Hotel Workers' Unity during Strike Responsible for Gains in New Contract
says UNITE HERE leadership
TORONTO, Oct. 16 /CNW/ - Almost one hundred hotel workers at the Sheraton
Ottawa Hotel have voted to ratify a new collective agreement after a four week
strike that seriously affected operations at one of the city's premiere
More than 90% of the workers, working in hotel's housekeeping, food and
beverage, kitchen and laundry departments, voted to go on strike four weeks
ago, after the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, owned by the Keck Seng Group out of
Malaysia, continued to insist that workers accept concessions to their Health
and Welfare Plan. The workers, all members of the Hospitality and Service
Trade Union, Local 261 of UNITE HERE, refused to accept the concessions and
maintained that unity throughout the strike, which saw no members of the
bargaining unit cross the picket line.
"This has been a remarkable show of solidarity," said Karen Grella,
Secretary Treasurer and Business Manager of Local 261. "Our members at the
Sheraton Ottawa Hotel weren't just fighting for their health and welfare plan,
they were standing up for respect and dignity in their workplaces. They made
it clear that they wouldn't accept having to shoulder more of the burden for
the benefits they need to support their families in dignity."
The Health and Welfare plan, the main issue in the strike, covers the
workers dental, health, eye glasses, prescription drug and disability
benefits. The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel had said that workers would have to
shoulder more of the costs of that plan, causing the strike four weeks ago.
The new collective agreement, ratified by 89% of the workers present, will
ensure the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel covers more of the cost of the plan, as well
as improving some of the benefits workers can access, like long term
disability coverage. The four year agreement also includes wage increases
totaling almost 14%.
"I am so proud of our members at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel," said Grella.
"Our bargaining committee, picket captains and the entire membership
sacrificed a lot during this strike but they stood up for what was right and
now they have made the improvements they deserved. This shows other hotel
owners in Ottawa that we won't accept concessions, especially when the hotels
in this city are doing so well. The room attendants, food servers and kitchen
staff that make these hotels run, and are such an important part of Ottawa's
hospitality industry, deserve to make a decent living."
Hotel workers from across North America have been mobilizing in the Hotel
Workers' Rising Campaign with UNITE HERE, drawing attention to the working
conditions, wages and benefits of hotel workers. The campaign, designed to
allow hotel workers to raise standards across their industry has been
successful in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and most recently Vancouver, in
achieving breakthrough contract standards for hotel workers.
"Local 261 has put Ottawa on notice," said Nick Worhaug, Co-Director of
UNITE HERE Canada. "The members at the Sheraton Ottawa said they wouldn't
settle for less, stood their ground and made real improvements. Hotel Workers'
Rising is alive and well in our nation's capital."
For further information:
For further information: Karen Grella, (613) 238-8136