There are 42 fewer union members in Parksville after employees of the Quality Bayside Resort voted to de-certify.
The employees were members of the Unite Here Local 40 for as long as anyone can remember, but things soured recently.
“How this came about . . . it’s always been a union-run hotel, but basically it came down to no shop stewards in place and there was a lot of slandering and bullying going on in the workplace,” said cook Jessie Mayrhofer of internal struggles between employees and the local shop stewards.
“People were paying $40 a month for this union and nobody was coming up and defending us,” he said, which led to the de-certification process.
According to Unite Here Victoria Area Steward Teresa South, staff filed a petition to de-certify on Dec. 15 and voted on Dec. 23, but “challenges at the vote,” led to the box being sealed until Jan. 8 when the votes were counted and formally accepted.
Asked what that means for the employees, South said:
“They’re screwed, pretty much. It was a seriously dumb move on their part.”
She said that while there’s no indication the current owner plans to change anything for the worse, the hotel has been for sale and “a new owner could come in tomorrow and lower all their wages. They’re pretty much just trusting their owner, which is silly.”
South agreed Local 40’s steward for the area has been on sick leave for a year and a half, and “instead of replacing her they made me do the job of two people, so I couldn’t be there very often because I still have the lockout in Nanaimo” (at the Nanaimo Golf Club).
“I wasn’t there very often, so that made them mad, and then I assigned shop stewards and they didn’t like one of them,” she said indicating there were personal conflicts complicating things.
She said the de-certification means the contract she bargained last summer is immediately void.
Kimberly Petraroia, the owner’s wife, said the hotel is not currently for sale, and that they plan to invest in the hotel.
“It’s a family owned business and it needs some TLC, its an older building, but the staff know, even in the past, when things start improving within the hospitality industry, our family’s very giving towards employees, so it’s not like oh no! We’re not decreasing anything, if anything we’re trying to improve it for them.”
Mayrhofer said there are mixed emotions among employees, which come with any change, but “after the transition people think this will be a good thing.”