September 18, 2010
TORONTO-Workers at the Westin Prince are taking a one-day strike action today after negotiations at a ninth Westmont hotel failed to address key issues relating to staffing levels, economic security and safety yesterday.
"Westmont has cut shifts across the board, even though the hotel is busy again," explained Andrea Henry, a Service Express worker at the Westin Prince. "Everyone is struggling. For example, some room attendants are told they aren’t needed the very same morning they are scheduled - or are sent home after only four hours. It makes it hard to cover basic expenses."
Room attendants at the Westin Prince have been hit by Starwood’s "Make a Green Choice" program, in which guests are given an incentive for refusing housekeeping services. Room attendants have condemned the program as a labour-saving initiative with little or no environmental impact. "Where we see the impact is on room attendants’ bodies," explains Henry, "because they have to use more elbow grease to clean rooms that have been sitting around getting dirty for days on end."
The eight hotels that have participated in the rotating one-day strikes during the last two weeks are all owned or managed by affiliates of Westmont. A number of other Westmont hotels face expiring contracts in the coming months. In total, Westmont employs over 2,000 members of UNITE HERE Local 75, the union representing hotel workers. Most of these workers have been without a new contract since February.
UNITE HERE Local 75 returns to the bargaining table on September 23 with the Hyatt Regency, where workers launched the series of one-day strike actions on September 3rd, and walked out a second time on September 12th. The striking hotel workers received strong support from film industry unions throughout the Festival week.
In both Canada and the U.S., the hotel industry is rebounding faster and stronger from the recession than expected but hotel workers are not sharing in that improved fortune, according to the union. Local 75 represents over 7,000 hotel, hospitality and gaming workers in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information, please visit www.uniteherelocal75.org.