Imperial Place locks out workers

News release

When HEU members decided to return to work, their employer told them they were trespassing

The employer at Imperial Place in Surrey is continuing to use American-style labour relations tactics in dealing with their employees. After two days of walking the picket line, health workers at this private, for-profit independent living facility for seniors attempted to return to work early this morning.

They were met by management who said they were not allowed to enter the premises. Outside they were told by one of the security guards hired by the employer that if they set foot on the property, they would be trespassing.

The employer hired the security guards to conduct surveillance on the union members as they picketed the facility and now, it seems, to keep them off the premises. On Monday and Tuesday the workers were on strike, but today they are locked out.

Sitting in their vehicle across the street from picketers, the guards get out of the car from time to time to videotape the union members. They’re obviously there to intimidate, but the Imperial Place workers are in very good spirits, especially because they are getting a lot of support from passersby.

The health workers wonder why the Oregon-based Holiday Retirement Corporation which owns Imperial Place claims to be unable to meet the union’s modest wage and benefits demands, but seems perfectly able to hire security guards.

“These 28 health workers, all but one of them women and many of them young students, think their employer could better use the money they are spending on security to get serious about bargaining and come back to the table with a reasonable offer,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

The issues still unresolved at the bargaining table are wages, extension of benefits to their dependents and footwear coverage. Their contract expired at the end of October 2000 and they have been negotiating since September 2000. The majority of HEU Imperial Place members work in the kitchen and housekeeping departments and currently earn between $8.00 and $13.75 an hour.