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.
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.