Skip to content

Laid-off workers appeal to Richmond city councillors

Pacific Gateway Hotel is looking to add two more hotels to its Cessna Drive property.
The Pacific Gateway Hotel in Richmond. File photo

Richmond city council expressed sympathy for locked-out Pacific Gateway Hotel workers, and they asked staff to look into how the city could support their job action.

The hotel workers have been picketing for more than a year, and they asked city council to boycott the hotel, pointing out in the past the city had held up to 100 events in a year there.

Two representatives of the union, Unite Here local 40, explained how 143 workers were laid off while the hotel became a COVID-19 quarantine centre, funded by the federal government.

During their appeal to council, the union representatives pointed out the hotel is looking to develop the property - city staff is currently reviewing a development application from Pacific Gateway Hotel, located on Cessna Drive, to make exterior changes to the current hotel and to add two more hotels to the property.

Treva Martell, representing the union, said hotel staff have been highly involved in the community, taking part in many charitable events, and now it’s time for the community to back them.

“Now Pacific Gateway employees ask for your help from the community,” Martell told city council. “Please do not give this hotel any business or grant the (development) applications. Justin Trudeau said no one should lose their jobs because of the pandemic, yet we are here.” (The union representatives referred to the application as a '"rezoning," however, the hotel has applied for a development application.)

The hotel has profited from the pandemic and yet it laid off employees, so approving the application would “reward bad behaviour,” Martell said.

City staff will look into the situation and provide council with direction on what they can do to support the unionized workers, who are asking the hotel to bring them back to work.

The union representatives pointed out the vast majority of the workers are women, and many live in Richmond.

Martell said some employees worked at the hotel for more than 40 years, adding the staff is like a “family.”

When the hotel laid off 143 employees, the remaining few employees went on strike to ensure the “recall rights” of all the workers, explained Martell, who worked at the hotel as a server.

The hotel’s federal contract ended in January.

Instead of waiting a month for the referral to come back from city staff, Coun. Carol Day suggested city council take immediate action by ensuring the city isn’t using the hotel.

But Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said that would be covered by the referral motion that city staff is dealing with.

The News reached out to Pacific Gateway Hotel, owned by PHI Hotel Group, but didn’t receive a reply.