TORONTO, Jan. 22, 2018 /CNW/ - The majority of workers at two Toronto hotels have taken a stand for Canadian autonomy and workers' democratic rights by signing membership cards confirming their decision to switch unions.
"This is a great victory and only the start of a movement by Canadian hospitality workers in Canada to take control of their future," said Lis Pimentel, who is leading the campaign for members of UNITE HERE Local 75 to join Unifor.
The American parent union of Local 75 placed the local into trusteeship earlier this month in a dispute over the right of the local to set its own course, including in bargaining. It also removed elected officers and seized the local's assets.
Such a hostile takeover is a betrayal of the democratic voices of workers in Canada, Pimentel said.
The majority of workers at the Marriott Yorkville and Courtyard Marriott hotels in downtown Toronto have signed membership cards to join Unifor. With their collective agreements set to expire January 31, the workers are in an open period, and so can choose to switch to another union.
"We don't want to be held back anymore," said Josefina Palomo-Lee, an operator at the Courtyard Marriott. "We'll get to decide our own futures. We'll get to choose our own leaders and bargain our own contracts. We'll have democratic control over our own union."
A vote will now be held with all unionized workers at the two hotels to formally switch their membership to Unifor. The vote is expected to be held early next week. Thousands more workers at hotels in Toronto and Mississauga are also signing Unifor cards, with more votes expected. To follow along for updates watch @Uniforlocal7575.
"Hotel workers will find a welcome home in Unifor. We are a strong Canadian Union, and respect local autonomy," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "As part of the Unifor family, they can continue their great work, which has inspired the labour movement in this country."
Pimentel said she approached Unifor because it has been vocal about U.S.-based unions trampling on the rights of workers, and has been a strong advocate on the rights of all workers.
Unifor represents more than 19,000 hospitality and gaming sector workers across Canada, and has won gains for workers at many of the same hotel chains where Local 75 represents workers.
SOURCE Canadian hotel workers
For further information: please contact Thorben Wieditz at [email protected], or cell 647-409-8997