Workers at Toronto’s One King West Hotel gathered early Tuesday morning, donned in Unifor T-shirts, caps, and buttons, and walked inside their workplace to vote on whether to leave their American union and join Unifor.
“Every worker must have the right to democratically decide for themselves which union they will join, and then have an opportunity to play an active role in setting the course of action their union will take,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
Unifor is confident that a majority of the 200 workers at the hotel have voted to leave UNITE HERE and join Unifor as members of Local 7575. Results of the vote were not release as the ballot boxes were sealed, after UNITE HERE complained to the labour board that the bargaining unit is not in an open period.
Workers at the Courtyard Marriott, Marriott Bloor Yorkville, Westin Prince, Hyatt Regency, and Delta Airport hotels voted in January and February to join Unifor.
The American parent union of UNITE HERE Local 75 placed the Toronto local in trusteeship in January, against the wishes of members, who voted in three votes against it.
Support for Unifor has been strong at One King West, despite UNITE HERE keeping a heavy presence of American union officials at the hotel to talk to workers, including in the staff cafeteria. One member of housekeeping staff, whose department makes up about one-third of the membership, said about 80 per cent of room attendants support Unifor.
Unifor filed an Unfair Labour Practices complaint at One King West on Monday after UNITE HERE sent a video of one of its own members, a past chief shop steward, to management, demanding he be suspended. The member was taped supporting Unifor and telling the UNITE HERE officials to let workers eat in peace.
“What kind of union demands that one of its own members be suspended? No workers should stay in a union that colludes with management like that,” Dias said.