Saturday, September 7, 2013

Another Union-Busting Eatery I Will Not Patronize

Several days ago I commented on a story from The Star about the unsavory labour practices of Richtree Market, a Toronto restaurant that 'closed' its business, terminated all of its unionized staff, only to reopen this coming Monday a few doors down from its prior location. None of the old staff was rehired, and all who currently staff the 'new' operation are non-union, a clear violation of Ontario labour law.

In this morning's edition, The Toronto Star reports that the same tactic has been used by the Lai Wah Heen restaurant, housed within the exclusive Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto:

For 17 years, Ricky Chu served the lauded dim sum at Lai Wah Heen restaurant with a smile. The unionized job at the Metropolitan Hotel eatery fed his kids, after all.

When a new owner took over the hotel in January, the high-end restaurant was shut down. Chu lost his job. But he considered it salt in the wound when Lai Wah Heen reopened in March — without him or ten other servers who were laid off. In their place was a non-unionized staff.

The Metropolitan Hotel changed hands this year, being purchased by Bayview Hospitality Group. This fact, according to its president, Al Gulamani, gives it every legal right to treat over 100 of the hotel's former workers like disposable commodities.

Unite Here Local 75, the union representing them, disagrees, arguing that the owner has violated labour law and their collective bargaining agreement by shutting down certain departments only to subcontract them out.

Employment lawyer Howard Levitt says new ownership can’t break a union agreement, especially if the nature of the business hasn’t changed.

“It doesn’t matter if the ownership changes, there’s something called successor rights in the Labour Relations Act. Employers who think that just by changing ownership they can escape the union are unfortunately deluded.”

Meanwhile, employees in other departments of the Metropolitan live in daily fear that they will be next. One of those is Rahman Aliheidari, 49, pictured above, who fears the room service department at the Metropolitan Hotel, where he works, will next:

“I have a 4-year-old daughter. When I work, I have fear. When I sleep, I have fear. You call this a stable job?”


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