Courage holds the line at Best Western Seven Oaks: A member’s view from the picket line
Hotel strike enters fifth month
Regina, Sask. – May 9, 2016 – As the strike at Best Western Seven Oaks in Regina enters its fifth month, UFCW Canada Local 1400 member and veteran Seven Oaks employee Girlie Basco explains why workers at the hotel continue to stand strong on the picket line, and why this struggle is so important to the Regina community and the members at Best Western.
“If you've driven along Albert Street in Regina recently, you've probably noticed that workers at the Best Western Seven Oaks Inn are on strike. And if you're one of the hundreds of commuters who pass by the hotel every day, you may have also noticed that we've been walking the picket line for almost five months. But you might not know why.
As a housekeeper who has worked full-time at the hotel for almost seven years, I can tell you that my coworkers and I did not take our decision to strike lightly. As you can imagine, life on the picket line is not easy. However, we knew that we had to stand up for our rights, because our employer is trying to intimidate us.
Despite the fact that business was booming at Seven Oaks before the strike, and even though Best Western is a highly profitable company that can afford to pay its workers fairly, the owners of Seven Oaks refuse to pay us a living wage.
What's more, they are trying to double the amount that employees currently pay for benefits by making us pay 50 percent of our benefit premiums, including all future increases. Given that most of us make just over minimum wage, we simply cannot afford this type of increase.
As a working mother of two, my family depends on my benefits to pay for basic medical services like dental checkups for my children. By attempting to double our benefit premiums, knowing that many of us cannot afford the increase, the owners of Seven Oaks are effectively slashing our wages. And our wages are already very modest. That is why we are standing up for our rights and saying "NO!" to their demands. We are fighting for fairness for all workers at Best Western Seven Oaks.
Thankfully we are receiving tremendous support from the Regina community in our fight for a living wage and fair benefits. The outpouring of support and encouragement that we have received from local residents, area MPs, our union, and other friends is very heartwarming, and it is keeping us going on the picket line. It also appears as though consumers are staying at other hotels, as business at Seven Oaks seems a lot slower ever since we went on strike.
But our employer is now refusing to negotiate with us, and so we are asking members of the public to support our struggle for fairness by avoiding the hotel until the strike is over. We are also asking people to send a message to the company to get back to the bargaining table, and you can lend your support to our fight by visiting ufcw.ca/bestwestern.
I know I speak for my hard-working coworkers when I say that none of us were eager to go on strike. However, the owners of Best Western Seven Oaks are showing a complete lack of respect for their staff, and they are trying to push concessions that would be financially crippling for myself and others. Our only option is to fight back and demand that we be treated with fairness and respect.”
Girlie Basco is a veteran Best Western Seven Oaks employee and a member of UFCW Canada Local 1400.