TORONTO – Workers at two downtown Toronto hotels have voted to leave the American union that had fired their local leadership and seized its assets, choosing to join Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union.
“The workers at these hotels are speaking with a loud and clear voice that they will not put up with the kind of bullying and intimidation that we see too often coming from American unions in Canada,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
“Today’s vote is about reinstating democracy for hotel workers. It’s about restoring workers’ rights to tell American unions you just can’t trample on the rights of union members.”
The votes at the Courtyard Marriott and the Marriott Yorkville were the first of many among hospitality workers across Toronto and Mississauga. Workers at the Westin Prince will vote on Wednesday, while those at the Hyatt Regency downtown and the Quality Hotel and Suites near the airport vote on Friday.
Workers at the King Edward, Doubletree Metropolitan and Delta Toronto Airport hotels vote next Monday, with more votes planned for later in the week.
“I voted to join Unifor today because I am fed up with an American union trying to tell us what to do and what we should fight for in bargaining with the employer,” said Roberto Perez, a worker at the Marriott Yorkville.
“Voting for Unifor means we, the workers can have a say to decide what’s best for our future. The American union wanted to take over but this is our union and it’s our say,” said Josefina Palomo-Lee of the Courtyard Marriott.
The American parent union of UNITE HERE 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.
With today’s votes, the workers will be members of the newly formed Unifor Local 7575, joining more than 19,000 hospitality and gaming workers in Unifor across Canada.
“Today’s votes are a great victory for hotel workers. We have taken an important stand for workers power and democratic principles as the workers’ exercised their right to determine their own future,” said Lis Pimentel, who is leading the effort to bring hotel workers to Unifor.
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.