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Hotel workers choose hope over fear

TORONTO – With almost 800 workers at four hotels joining Unifor over a span of just 10 days, a transformation has begun that will build a stronger future for hotel workers in Canada, Unifor says.

“This has been a campaign based on hope for a stronger future, offering an antidote to the bullying and intimidation that has defined the relationship of the members with their previous American union,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

“The fact that so many workers voted for change – often getting up very early in the morning to do so – is a testament to the power of a belief in working together, instead of against one another.”

Workers at the Courtyard Marriott, Marriott Bloor Yorkville, Westin Prince and Delta Toronto Airport hotels have voted to join Unifor, leaving behind the American union that had placed their previous local into trusteeship and fired elected local leaders and shop stewards.

As well, the votes of another 399 workers at three more hotels – the Hyatt Regency, Sheraton airport and Four Points airport – have been sealed in a dispute with U.S.-based UNITE HERE. Unifor is optimistic workers at these hotels voted to join Unifor, as well.

In a vote today, workers at the Toronto Don Valley and Hilton downtown hotels voted to stay with their American-based parent union.

“Unifor respects the democratic right of all workers to decide which union to join,” said Dias.

With all of the votes beginning at 7am, dozens of workers supporting the move to Unifor gathered at local coffee shops as early as 6am to walk into the polling stations together.

“They shared coffees and donuts, they hugged and laughed and pinned Unifor buttons on each other’s coats, and then they walked into their workplaces and voted for a strong and more positive future,” said Lis Pimentel, who has led the effort to join Unifor.

“To me, there has been nothing more inspiring throughout all this than those moments.”

The workers join more than 19,000 hospitality and gaming workers in Unifor across Canada working at every major hotel chain operating in Canada

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.