Lufthansa Crew Caught In Vancouver Hotel Union Dispute

Lufthansa Crew Caught In Vancouver Hotel Union Dispute

21

A Lufthansa crew sure had an eventful layover in Vancouver last week…

Hotel union targets Lufthansa crew

UNITE HERE Local 40 is a union representing many hospitality workers in Vancouver, including staff at the Hilton Metrotown. The union accuses the hotel of locking out workers after firing 97 employees, and refusing to commit to returning long-term workers to their jobs as business recovers.

Workers have been protesting for the past several weeks, and last Thursday (May 13, 2021) the union’s attention turned to Lufthansa:

  • While large unions and Burnaby City Council have pledged not to patronize the hotel until it reinstates workers, this is the hotel that Lufthansa uses for crew layovers in Vancouver
  • The hotel union is accusing Lufthansa flight crew members of continuing to “cross the picket line” by staying at the Hilton Metrotown

When last Thursday’s Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver arrived, union members were at the airport to protest. The protestors even had signs in German, specifically directed at the Lufthansa crew.

The drama didn’t end at the airport — when the crew arrived at the hotel, the protestors tried to block the bus from pulling in, and the bus even ran over someone’s foot.

My take on all of this…

I have a few different thoughts here.

First of all, it sounds like the protestors have some legitimate gripes. While it’s a tough time for the hotel industry, Hilton’s CEO has made it clear that many of the service and labor cuts we’re seeing are permanent, and that the pandemic will turn hotels into “higher-margin businesses.” That’s bad for both workers and guests.

Next, I can’t help but wonder if the Lufthansa crew was warned of this situation in advance, or if this came as a complete surprise to them when they landed. If this came as a surprise, could you imagine how caught off guard they were? They just finished a long flight and were probably ready to get some rest, only to find protestors at the airport specifically targeting them.

Realistically it’s not like the crew did anything wrong — individual crews don’t choose where to stay, and hotel choices are made on a corporate level.

The crew was ultimately collateral damage, with the goal presumably being that the crew complains to the company about the issues they experienced, with the hope of this leading to Lufthansa changing its crew hotel in Vancouver.

While inconvenient and perhaps unfair to the individual crew, I do think it’s probably one of the more effective ways to make the hotel suffer. Over the years I’ve been caught in major hotel union protests on several occasions. Of course it’s incredibly frustrating as a guest, but that’s also the goal.

Bottom line

A Lufthansa crew with a layover in Vancouver last week became the target of a protest. Workers of the Hilton Metrotown have been protesting for weeks, and the union representing workers wasn’t happy that Lufthansa continues to use the hotel for crew layovers.

Union members decided to meet the crew at the airport with custom signs that accused them of crossing picket lines, and also attempted to block their bus from getting to the hotel.

I’m curious to see if this works, and causes Lufthansa to change its layover hotel in Vancouver.

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  1. Joe Chivas

    Serves the FAs right for crossing the line. Scabs!!

  2. Stefan

    Every single one of these people should be fired, the hotel owner should just sell the property, close it and develop condos in the building. This has nothing to do with protesting, itā€™s militant activism. Maybe you shouldnā€™t place yourself in front of a bus and then complain you get your foot run over. People are losing their businesses everywhere and no - they donā€™t have a ā€œrightā€ to keep their job no matter what.

  3. Klaus

    Airlines prefer that the general public does not know the layover hotel (safety reasons) - so I am pretty confident, that the Crew Hotel will change.

    Besides, why would they have a crew hotel in Burnaby?

  4. Icarus

    @joe chivas. If you are not being sarcastic itā€™s an idiotic statement. The crew have absolutely nothing to do with it.

    @ Stefan depends on policy and notice , redundancy etc. At least Canada has it, unlike the US where they can lay you off even after years of service , without a cent

  5. Mike

    Lucky, I'm sure you did your research and saw that the job action has been happening since February. If youā€™re wondering if the crew were caught by surprise it might be a chance to dust off your Umlauts and put your German to use. ;))) Why not contact the Lufthansa flight attendant and pilot unions (UFO and VC) and ask if they were aware of the labour dispute?

  6. Che

    @Stefan
    Hate unions much?
    Fact is workplaces that unionize are the ones where the employees do not feel valued or respected.
    So if a company canā€™t keep a union from forming itā€™s because of their own stupidity and myopic decision making. Fire all the managers!

  7. Icarus

    In Europe unions have negotiated decent holidays , redundancy , sick pay , age leave , compassionate leave maternity and paternity leave , pensions ...and a host of other things.

    It is bizarre why so many Americans - Republicans of course , hate the concept of workers rights and universal healthcare.

  8. Endre

    Unions and their dinks are the reason why the service industry in Canada and the US is so f*cked up

  9. Julian

    It is not easy to just change the crew hotel at short notice. There are agreements, safety checks etc. that are in the background. Did they expect the crew to just get out booking.com and sort something out? Not how things work....

  10. Mike

    @Icarus
    So true. They call themselves the ā€œgreatest democracyā€ on earth but itā€™s absolutely shocking how the average worker get treated there.

  11. BCTraveler

    The hotel industry here in the Vancouver area has been pretty draconian towards their employees. News reports of hotels laying workers off with out severance and replacing them with lower paid workers are frequent.

    Any thing this people can do to get the word out will be good for them. Thanks for posting this.

    As a travel consumer I do take not of what is going on and redirect my travel dollars.

  12. West Coast Flyer

    Wait, why are these international arrivals taking a bus halfway across the metro area to a hotel that isn't on the approved covid hotel quarantine list?

    And why are protesters allowed to mob at the airport when the airport has requested no one go near it unless they are actually travelling or working there?

  13. Kevin

    There are few better reasons to change a hotel reservation ā€¦. than to move to a hotel being picketed. Or shop at a grocery store with a bunch of union whores parading around out front. Or dine at a restaurant with idiots chanting outside.

    I proudly and happily will frequent businesses being subjected to union harassment!

  14. Brian L.

    @Icarus - Your realize this happened in Canada, right?

    @Mike - Democracy is a form of government. It has nothing to do with how private companies treat their employees. And as noted above, this did not happen in the US.

  15. Eskimo

    I'm no union protest expert but what does "crossing the picket line" have anything to do with non-union related people.
    It definitely means a lot to the workers but isn't it meaningless to bystanders or this case LH crew.

  16. B.

    Hah, serves them right. They do the same to passengers frequently. How does it feel to be at the other side? :D

    Sorry for the hotel workers in Canada. Good job with the signs in German.

  17. Bruno

    There were news articles last week about this and the fact that they were going to turn their attention to the Lufthansa crew that layovers at the hotel.
    So, for sure they were not caught by surprised. They were warned.

    News article from May 13th:
    https://canadianaviationnews.wordpress.com/2021/05/13/locked-out-hilton-metrotown-workers-to-stage-demonstration-at-yvr-airport-lufthansa-airline-crew-dont-cross-our-picket-line/

  18. aafreq

    Ah, Yes, the ā€˜one preventersā€™ I really meant percentersā€™ are crawling out of their suburban conclaves to voice their ā€˜discontentā€™ā€¦presumably never having to make up their bed, clean the bathroom, or vacuum the floorsā€¦
    Inconsiderateā€™ is not appropriateā€¦inordinate is more accurateā€¦

  19. dstblj 52

    Serves the FAs right for crossing the line. Scabs!!

    Their litterally not though, they did not serve as replacement workers their not scabs,

  20. Devarsh Saraf

    Hey, this is a very interesting piece. You mentioned that you have been caught in hotel union protests in the past, and would love to know more about these instances - what the hotel did or did not do to help - what they could have done better, etc. Please do write about them!!

  21. Grant M

    So, ignoring the COVID aspects, have the protesters thought this through?
    Unions are important and have done great things (despite some of the fat cats at the top being asshats - at least here in Australia :) ) but this really is a case of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    Think it through: Lufthansa says "Our crew aren't safe!" and change their hotel, using a clause in their agreement re safety...

    So, ignoring the COVID aspects, have the protesters thought this through?
    Unions are important and have done great things (despite some of the fat cats at the top being asshats - at least here in Australia :) ) but this really is a case of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    Think it through: Lufthansa says "Our crew aren't safe!" and change their hotel, using a clause in their agreement re safety of crew to break a contract without financial penalty (you know that's in there).
    Lufthansa sends their crew elsewhere.
    Original hotel winds up with less income.
    Original hotel says "Sorry, we're downsizing"
    Guess who gets laid off?

    Far better would be to present crew with a smile, a welcome and a pamphlet (along with the signs in German). Lufthansa might then have a chat with the owners about improving things or they're going elsewhere.

    Hello? Winning? Everyone gets what they want (& bastard management are coerced to adjust their practices).

    Worth a try and better than scaring the money to their competitors (unless, of course, the protesting unionists have already picked up jobs at the competition... :) :) ).

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Grant M

So, ignoring the COVID aspects, have the protesters thought this through? Unions are important and have done great things (despite some of the fat cats at the top being asshats - at least here in Australia :) ) but this really is a case of cutting off their nose to spite their face. Think it through: Lufthansa says "Our crew aren't safe!" and change their hotel, using a clause in their agreement re safety of crew to break a contract without financial penalty (you know that's in there). Lufthansa sends their crew elsewhere. Original hotel winds up with less income. Original hotel says "Sorry, we're downsizing" Guess who gets laid off? Far better would be to present crew with a smile, a welcome and a pamphlet (along with the signs in German). Lufthansa might then have a chat with the owners about improving things or they're going elsewhere. Hello? Winning? Everyone gets what they want (& bastard management are coerced to adjust their practices). Worth a try and better than scaring the money to their competitors (unless, of course, the protesting unionists have already picked up jobs at the competition... :) :) ).

Devarsh Saraf

Hey, this is a very interesting piece. You mentioned that you have been caught in hotel union protests in the past, and would love to know more about these instances - what the hotel did or did not do to help - what they could have done better, etc. Please do write about them!!

dstblj 52

Serves the FAs right for crossing the line. Scabs!! Their litterally not though, they did not serve as replacement workers their not scabs,

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