What To Do In a Hotel Strike

Some of Unite Here Local 40 hotel workers who are on strike in Vancouver.

Hundreds of workers at the Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore, Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront, and Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver, British Columbia are on strike. Most workers at these hotels have been without a contract since mid-2018.

The workers, including room attendants, chefs, front-desk staff, and other employees at these properties, walked off the job at the end of September. The union workers, represented by Unite Here Local 40, have been holding this “open-ended strike” outside the hotels since then.

“It is business as usual in our city and no one should change their plans to come to Vancouver for their meeting or convention. The hotels involved have implemented contingency plans to allow for continued operations,” explains Dave Gazley vice president, meeting and convention sales, Tourism Vancouver.

How can you protect your events in these types of situations?

It is imperative to have a contract that speaks to remedies of a labor disruption. In most instances, such occurrences are included in a contract’s force majeure clause. It is also essential that the worst-case scenario is planned for. Make sure there is verbiage in the contract that states what will be done if a strike does occur and that the hotel will cover ancillary costs of moving the event.

Do you have to bus your group to a different hotel? Make sure the hotel you are contracted with will cover the cost of bussing and any other additional costs that are incurred.

Vancouver, BC-based Stephen Ing, vice president, team director, ConferenceDirect recommends making sure you don’t contract with a hotel that does not have a collective agreement in place with its employees. It is also important to find out if there is an agreement in place when it runs out.

Ing helped a client scheduled to have a dinner at one of these hotels relocate the event. “With limited staff, the hotel couldn’t do all that was contracted,” he explains. Although he found another hotel that had the space the group needed, the most challenging part was finding staff within 72 hours to service the dinner for 200.

The planner was a novice and didn’t know to handle this situation and turned to Ing and ConferenceDirect. “We deal with hotel contracts day in and day out,” says Ing. “We have the ability to source one hotel, five hotels, or 50 hotels very quickly. In a case like this, time is of the essence.”

Ing started searching for alternative space for the client while he was still on the phone with her. “The best place to find yourself is in front of the wave but not behind the wave. You don’t ever want to be the last person looking for space. If you have an inkling of a labor disruption, act on it. Don’t wait for the hotel to try to solve your problem.”

If you have an event or conference scheduled at one of the hotels involved in the strike, contact Octavian Cadabeschi of Unite Here for help at OCadabeschi@unitehere.org.

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