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Royal York workers vote on joining Unifor

September 11, 2018

TORONTO More than 800 workers at Toronto’s iconic Fairmont Royal York voted today on whether to switch unions and join Unifor, following a ruling from the labour board last week ordering the vote.

“These workers are finally getting the democratic choice they deserve to belong to a union of their own choosing,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

"All Unifor ever wanted was a chance for hospitality workers to decide for themselves which union they want to represent them, and Royal York workers are finally getting that.”

The supervised vote was ordered last week by the Ontario Labour Relations Board after Unifor Local 7575 raised concerns with the board about a contract ratification vote conducted by U.S.-based UNITE HERE Local 75 alleging intimidation of members and improper voting procedures. Ballot boxes will remain sealed until a full labour board hearing is held next month.

With dozens of unfair labour practice complaints pending against both the US-based union UNITE HERE and Fairmont, more than 500 Royal York workers signed Unifor membership cards and requested a labour board vote to change unions last week.

“We are optimistic that the workers will vote to join Unifor, and that the labour board will order the vote counted in a few short weeks,” said Lis Pimentel, who is leading the effort of hotel workers to leave the American union to join Unifor.

“Royal York workers have been among the strongest opponents of the heavy-handed tactics of UNITE HERE,” Pimentel said.

UNITE HERE placed its largest Canadian local into trusteeship last January in a dispute over the right of the local to set its own course, including determining the bargaining strategy and issues. It also removed elected officers and seized the local's assets, leading to the effort to join Unifor.

Since then, almost 1,000 workers at the Toronto Hyatt Regency and Courtyard Marriott, Marriott Bloor Yorkville, Westin Prince and Delta airport hotels, as well as the Bombardier cafeteria and Hamilton Legion, have voted to join Unifor Local 7575.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.