Workers vote to unionize following mass firings, lawsuit against Pan Pacific Hotel

·1 min read

The union representing hospitality workers in B.C., says Vancouver's Pan Pacific Hotel workers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of unionizing.

A statement from Unite Here Local 40 says nearly 75 per cent of workers at the luxury hotel connected to the Vancouver Convention Centre East voted "strongly" in favour of joining the union.

Last month, 100 workers, most of them women of colour working for the hotel for decades, filed a class action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court alleging the hotel wrongfully terminated them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Documents filed in court claim the hotel misled and wrongfully fired workers, then did not provide full severance payments.

The suit also alleges remaining workers were asked to sign an agreement to waive their severance rights and give up their regular full-time status in exchange for a $250 bonus and health benefits.

The union says some of them were fired anyway.

"This is the 21st century. We want an end to the hotel industry's 19th century treatment of women," said union president Zailda Chan.

According to the union, more than 60 per cent of workers in B.C.'s hotel industry are women – many of them immigrants, visible minorities and Indigenous, cleaning rooms, cooking meals, and serving guests.

The hotel has yet to respond to CBC's request for comment. None of the workers' allegations have been tested in court.