Strike action has been averted at the LNG Canada construction site now that 450 Sodexo hospitality workers at Cedar Valley Lodge voted unanimously to ratify a new collective agreement on July 22.
Housekeepers, kitchen staff, janitors, guest service agents and maintenance staff employed by Sodexo, unionized with UNITE HERE Local 40 and IBEW Local 993 earlier this year and then voted 97 percent in favour of strike action on July 7.
Hospitality workers at Cedar Valley Lodge were the lowest compensated workers at the LNG Canada construction site, the union said.
BC Building Trades members, who make up the majority of the nearly 5,000 workers at the site expressed support for the Lodge workers.
In mediation with Sodexo at the BC Labour Board, most Cedar Valley Lodge hospitality staff won a 30-40 per cent pay increase over the one-year contract. Lodge workers won an immediate wage increase of $5 an hour and maintenance staff got a 10 per cent pay increase.
“I’m very proud that Cedar Valley Lodge workers have won the contract they needed. I believe this groundbreaking new agreement sends a strong message to camp workers across the province that when workers stand up for themselves, they win! Hospitality workers will not be overlooked or disrespected, and their work should be valued,” said Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40 President.
Other changes include an increase in vacation pay, significant medical benefit improvements, and the establishment of a retirement plan. There are also new protections for kitchen, janitor, and housekeeping positions.
Lodge staff have also won a remote hospitality worker premium.
“We at Cedar Valley Lodge have been fighting for three long years to be treated fairly. With this amazing contract, I feel we have finally won respect and something that represents us as industry professionals. We won a fair wage increase, improved benefits, but most importantly we are proud to be unionized with Local 40. This victory has changed my life and the lives of my coworkers. We’ve gone from tears of fear to tears of joy!” said Larry Samaroo, a cook who has worked at the Lodge for three years.