The majority of workers at two Toronto hotels have signed Unifor membership cards, triggering a vote to be held on officially switching unions, expected before the end of January.
“Hotel workers will find a welcome home in Unifor. We are a strong Canadian union and respect local autonomy,” said Jerry Dias, National President. “As part of the Unifor family, they can continue their great work, which has inspired the labour movement in this country.”
Former UNITE HERE Local 75 President Lis Pimentel, who is leading the campaign for members of Local 75 to join Unifor, said the workers have taken a stand for Canadian autonomy and workers’ democratic rights by signing Unifor membership cards.
“This is a great victory and only the start of a movement by Canadian hospitality workers in Canada to take control of their future,” she said.
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 on January 31, the workers are in an open period, and 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 change their union membership to Unifor. Votes will be held the week of January 29. Thousands more workers at hotels in Toronto and Mississauga are also signing Unifor cards, with more votes expected soon.