Camp workers at the Horizon North Crossroads Lodge in Kitimat have ratified their first union contact. It is a three-year deal that enjoyed 97 per cent support by the workers at the facility which serves the LNG Canada project site.
“Thanks to Horizon North for continuing to bargain through COVID-19. I’m so proud that we were able to win this tremendous contract in the middle of the pandemic. Between the wage increases, travel pay, and pension, this is such a huge step forward for us,” Kathy Wallace, cook at Crossroads Lodge, said in union media release.
Workers in the front desk, housekeeping and kitchen departments will enjoy several new benefits due to the agreement. Some workers will see their wages increase by 24 per cent, while all will receive employer paid air travel and health care, seniority, pension, workload protections and recall rights.
UNITE HERE Local 40 communications specialist Stephanie Fung said the deal is especially important now. “In Kitimat, the cost of living is skyrocketing in the city,” she said. “So that was really the goal, to improve the wages so they can have a better standard of living.”
“Especially those who are coming to Kitimat from out of town, especially with the travel pay that is 100 per cent covered by the employer, that’s a huge, huge difference,” said Fung.
In November 2019, 85 workers joined the UNITE HERE Local 40 union. Negotiations with Horizon North began in January and continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The process during the pandemic was actually a bit more challenging with all the social distancing and physical distancing in place. People were connected to each other and communications had to be effective,” said Fung.
On May 11, the contract was ratified by union members. UNITE HERE Local 40 is the only union in British Columbia that represents hospitality workers. It represents around 300 camp workers in Kitimat and is aiming to unionize more workers in northern B.C.
Horizon North is a publicly traded company based in Calgary, Alta. that specializes in modular construction and workforce accommodation projects.
“We are pleased to reach a resolution with Unite Here Local 40 that our employees are happy with and that provides labour certainty moving forward with our crossroads lodge in Kitimat,” said Rod Graham, Horizon North President said in an emailed statement.
“Our engagement with Unite Here was productive from the beginning and, while the COVID-19 environment impacted our regular in-person communications in recent weeks, good discussions continued virtually in order to reach this solution.”
Crossroads Lodge opened in May, 2019 and has more than 700 hotel-style rooms. It is located on Highway 37 at the entrance to Kitimat.