March 11, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Workers and industries across Canada continue to be impacted by COVID-19 due to wide-spread travel restrictions and stay-at-home-orders. Those workers in the hospitality and food services sectors have been hard hit by the pandemic and their livelihood is in jeopardy. Even as news of vaccines and loosening restrictions begin to emerge, the loss of business to these sectors has been devastating.
In March of 2020, as the Coronavirus was emerging in Canada, Hilton Hotel in Saint John laid off over 90% of its employees due to the decline in business. Almost a year later, approximately 80% of those employees remain on layoff status.
For the last two weeks, Unifor and Hilton have been discussing the language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as it relates to members’ recall rights. Article 15 of the Agreement addresses Seniority. Article 15.05, section "d" states:
" An employee shall lose all seniority and the employees’ employment shall be deemed to have terminated if the employee: is laid off for a period longer than twelve (12) consecutive months. "
We are now closing in on the conclusion of the 12-month period where (as per Article 15.05, section "d") members would lose their seniority. When the 12-months has elapsed, and if the member has 36 months of continuous service, the member would be given severance pay, per Article 31 of the Agreement.
The current Unifor-Hilton Collective Bargaining Agreement was negotiated without the assumption or knowledge of the ongoing global pandemic. As such, the Union and the Employer do not wish to negatively disadvantage any member whereby they would be forced to sever their employment with Hilton. To resolve any such shortcoming, Unifor and Hilton entered into a series of discussions to address the matter and provide additional options while maintaining those rights outlined in Article 31.
On March 10, 2021, the parties finalized a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and Letter of Understanding (LOU) pertaining to recall rights that provide an additional option for those who have been laid off. Any member who has been laid off on or before March 2, 2021 – as a result of COVID-19 – shall have their recall rights extended to two years. This provides the member with an additional 12-months of recall rights (i.e. 24 months).
The MOA and LOU also protects the original language and those rights in the Agreement should the member elect to sever their employment, per Article 31.
Both the MOA and LOU are clearly a positive move for the overwhelming majority of Unifor members at Hilton Saint John who are reaching their 12-months of being laid off, and for those who wish to continue to remain on the recall list.
To view the documents, click the links below:
Unifor-Hilton Memorandum of Agreement (PDF)
Unifor-Hilton Letter of Understanding (PDF)
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Assistant to the Local 2002 President
/21-03-11 Hilton Recall Rights EN.txt