A union representing service industry employees at Vancouver International Airport is raising concerns about upcoming food service contracts.
Announced last month, YVR says it will implement over 20 new food and beverage concepts at the airport over the next two years, along with 10 new retail offerings.
Openings will begin as soon as summer 2019, and will continue on over the next couple of years.
However, Unite Here Local 40, which represents many of the service industry employees at YVR, says some of these new contracts could put workers' jobs at risk.
Currently, businesses in the airport have leases that are usually eight years long and if a new business takes over the space afterwards, the workers often need to re-apply for their jobs and may lose their benefits.
“We have no job security at YVR,” said Denise Yuile, a long-term server at the domestic terminal’s White Spot. “I have two children, so it’s scary not knowing what comes next.”
For some airport workers, these constant changes have led to stagnant wages.
Fipe Wong, an HMSHost employee who has worked as a first cook at the airport for 23 years still only made $16.50 per hour as of last fall, forcing her to take on other part-time work.
“I am in the union and if a non-union company comes in, I will lose all my benefits,” Wong said, adding that there have been several times where a business’ lease has not been renewed, forcing her to re-apply for her position.
“I’ve worked two jobs ever since I started working at the airport. I had to,” she said.
Instead, Unite Here Local 40 says it wants successorship contract protections for employees and urges the airport to ensure the incoming businesses hire current workers and recognize their experience to help them retain their wages and benefits.
“This is a prime example of why the province needs to protect contracted food service workers when institutions flip contracts and replace experienced workers with those who are paid minimum wage,” said Zailda Chan, president of Unite Here Local 40 in a press release.
“YVR touts their role as a sustainable airport but has a long history of treating contracted food service workers, many of them women of colour, as if they’re disposable.”
So far, YVR has “committed to ensuring all affected workers are guaranteed job interviews” with the new businesses.
“In addition, YVR has committed to announcing a fair wage policy by this year’s Annual Public Meeting in May that will continue to help ensure YVR remains competitive and a great place to work,” Michele Mawhinney, the airport’s vice president of people and sustainability, told the Richmond News by email.
YVR has more than 170 shops, services and restaurants. Some of the new contracted restaurants coming in the next two years include Hawksworth Kitchen, The Dirty Apron and Steamworks Bar and Restaurant.