Since mid-March of 2022, workers from the Super 8 Hotel in Moose Jaw on Main St. have been locked out and have been refused by Super 8 to work over contract disputes.
For roughly the last 3 months, the employees have been picketing outside of the hotel every day in protest of being locked out.
The employees are represented under Unite Here Local 41 workers union.
The contract between the union and Super 8 came up for renewal. The new management at Super 8 presented a new contract with over 60 changes, many of them giving the hotel management the authority to control certain aspects of the employees' jobs that were controlled by the union.
According to the union President Gary Whalen, the contract insisted on separating the employees from the union and removing any union involvement with the company’s employees. Since that contract was presented, the union and the employees made a clear statement that separation wasn’t an option. Therefore, the union and the company have been in unmoved negotiations for the past few months.
On Thursday, June 23rd, the union hosted a picket rally out front of the super 8 hotel.
“We’re just showing these guys that we’re not quitting, we’re not folding,” says Whalen.
He also says that the union did agree to some changes but could not possibly agree to a majority of them. Whalen adds that the company will not budge on the new contract they’ve presented and it has not approached the union to push negotiations.
Just under 30 people joined in the rally while passing vehicles honked in support.
Representatives from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labor and the NDP labor Critic attended the event in support of the workers union.
“They’re being treated so unfairly. We need to come out in big numbers. We need to show this employer that they can’t get away with treating their employees like this,” says Lori Johb, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labor.
According to Super 8, the union is at fault for negotiations not moving forward.
Here's what Super 8 Moose Jaw said in a statement via email:
“The hotel industry is the hardest hit of all industries as a result of the global pandemic, and remains one of the only industries that continues to be affected. What people used to do in person, using hotel rooms, and conference space, is often done virtually now. The hotel industry has required a shift in its approach to business, in order to remain viable.
The Super 8 and Unite Here Local 41 began collective bargaining in 2021. During bargaining, the Super 8 proposed changes to the existing collective bargaining agreement, which would create some flexibility for the hotel, and allow it to operate in the current market conditions. When the Union and the Super 8 got to the bargaining table, the Union flat out refused to discuss the vast majority of the changes, simply saying “no” without engaging in any meaningful discussion or conversation.
The Super 8 has never proposed a rollback of wages. All the Super 8 was seeking was flexibility with respect to managing its hotel operation, and an ability for the small staff and management of the hotel to work collaboratively, without an adversarial mentality.
Instead of meaningful discussion, the Union, and particularly the Union President, resorted to personal attacks and name calling. When it was clear that there would not be any meaningful negotiations, the Super 8 was left with no choice but to engage in a lockout, since the Union simply refused to recognize the changes in the hotel industry, or the need for flexibility and change.
The Super 8 would like to engage in meaningful discussions with the Union on the needs of the hotel, for today, and for the future, and negotiate a renewal of the collective agreement. However, the Union is not willing to have the required discussions and conversations which could result in a renewed collective bargaining agreement.”
There are court dates set in July for unfair labor practice and mediation.