October 27, 2010For Immediate Release
TORONTO- Picket lines went up around the Delta Chelsea at 7 AM this morning as hundreds of the hotel’s employees took to the streets. UNITE HERE Local 75 members say the hotel failed to make progress on key issues, including the protection of full-time, stable jobs and hours; safer workloads and economic security. The collective agreement expired in February 2010.
Feliz Serrano, a 30-year server at the Delta Chelsea says: "How long do you have to work at a hotel before you can expect the security of a 40-hour workweek? After 30 years of service to the hotel, I am lucky if I get 30 hours of work each week, and that’s only if I’m willing to work six days in a row. The Delta Chelsea continues to take away our rights to work and have a decent life. We have waited long enough. It’s time we get what we deserve."
"I have worked as a Room Attendant at the Delta Chelsea for 18 years, and all I have to show for it are the injuries I have received in the job," said Jian Ying Liu, a Room Attendant at the Delta Chelsea. “Instead of respecting my seniority and all the hard work I have done for years, the hotel has tried to get rid of me three times. I have made physical and economic sacrifices for the hotel. My work shouldn’t hurt me and work-related injuries shouldn’t result in the punishment of injured workers.”
"All of us at the Delta Chelsea want to send a strong message: this hotel, and our industry in general, have been in recovery mode for months. There is absolutely no excuse for this hotel to ask us to accept concessions when it is looking forward to years of growing revenues,” said Lynne Hill, a server in Monarchs Pub for 34 years.
"Most of us working in hotels are women and most of us are also immigrants,” said Eula Marcos, who has worked as a Room Attendant at the Delta Chelsea for 19 years. “Women and immigrants were hit the hardest by the most recent recession. The hotel industry has recovered, we need to recover too. This is not just about us – it’s about our families and our communities.”
The workers were joined on the picket line by workers from other Toronto hotels, as well as regular customers from the Chelsea. “We come to this hotel year after year because of you,” explained Nancy Pridham, Vice President, OPSEU, the provincial public sector workers’ union, a regular customer of the hotel. Over the year OPSEU has been one the largest costumers of the hotel. “You greet us when we see you, you ask us how we are – it feels like home. We are angry that so many of you are struggling to make ends meet when the hotel is clearly full. We are angry that room attendants go home with pain every day, as a result of increased workload. If the Delta workers have to defend themselves by taking a strike, OPSEU will take its business out of the hotel as a sign of solidarity with the hotel workers."
The workers reached a strike/lockout deadline last week, and voted 95% to authorize a strike earlier this summer. Employees working for other hotels have staged a successful series of one day strike actions earlier this fall during the G20 Summit and the Toronto International Film Festival, calling attention to the growing divide in the fortunes of hotel companies and hotel workers.
The Delta Hotels & Resorts chain was purchased by the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC) from Fairmont in 2007. Delta operates the Delta Chelsea hotel, along with the Delta Toronto East and Delta Airport West, also currently in negotiations with UNITE HERE Local 75 members. The Delta Chelsea is owned by a Hong Kong-based company called Great Eagle Holdings, which owns and operates a handful of luxury properties under the Langham hotels name.
Local 75 represents over 7,000 hotel, hospitality and gaming workers in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information, please visit www.uniteherelocal75.org.