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Union donates grocery cards to striking Unite Here workers

Zailda Chan, president of Unite Here Local 40 and President Kim Novak on the picket line.

UFCW 1518 donated $5000 worth of grocery gift cards to Unite Here Local 40, whose members have been on strike for more almost three weeks. Widespread sexual harassment coupled with unlivable wages prompted 1200 workers at four major Vancouver hotels to walk off the job in September. As revenues at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Pinnacle Harbourfront, Hyatt Regency and Westin Bayshore have soared in the most profitable hospitality industry in Canada, hotel workers were left behind. Many are forced to hold two jobs or work excessive hours just to make ends meet.

President Kim Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson, along with all of the UFCW 1518 staff joined striking workers on the picket line at the Rosewood Georgia Hotel a few days after the strike began. President Novak spoke to the crowd and pledged her support. “Being on a picket line is tough. You’re fighting to build a better workplace and defend your rights against an employer who is battling you every step of the way,” she said. “Then there’s the added financial precarity of being on strike and the incredible stress that brings. We wanted to show our solidarity and help these workers enjoy Thanksgiving with their families.”

President Novak noted that the grocery gift cards are from unionized stores where UFCW 1518 members work, so it’s truly workers supporting workers. She continued: “It is absolutely unacceptable for an employer to stand by while workers are being sexually harassed and endangered at work. We stand with the labour community in calling for these hotels to protect their workers, who are truly the foundation of their successful businesses, and negotiate a fair agreement now.”

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