The North Star


Coordinated Collective Bargaining

Quebec Hotel workers demand a 9% annual wage increase

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This summer, 31 hotel unions affiliated with the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) will be negotiating their new collective agreement in a coordinated fashion. This will be the eleventh such negotiation uniting hotels across the province of Quebec to create a stronger bargaining position against the bosses.

In coordinated bargaining, all participating unions adhere to a common platform, whilst leaving room for specific local demands. If a union wishes to accept an employer's offer that is less favourable than the general demands, it must be accepted by the body representing all the unions in the bargaining group.

During the 2020 bargaining campaign, for example, the unions agreed that they could not accept any reduction in working conditions, in addition to demanding wage gains of 2% per year and a greater Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution from the employer. A union willing to accept a 1.5% increase would therefore have had to ask the bargaining coordinating committee to sign such a low agreement. 

This year, the 31 hotel unions are asking for wage increases of 36% over 4 years (9%/year on average). This substantial demand is aimed at "making up for the loss of purchasing power due to inflation", according to a CSN press release.

Strike at the Delta and Hilton Hotels in Quebec City, 2021

A long history of common struggle

The tradition of coordinated collective bargaining in the hotel industry dates back to the late 80s. Between 1986 and 1988, there were three small-scale coordinated bargaining campaigns, foreshadowing the provincial coordinated bargaining campaigns that would follow a few years later. In 1986, 4 Quebec City unions joined forces, inspiring 19 Montreal unions to launch a collective bargaining campaign of their own in the spring of 1987. In 1988, 6 unions from Quebec City and Rimouski joined forces. 

The first pan-Quebec coordinated collective bargaining campaign took place in 1990. It set the course for coordinated collective bargaining at 3-year intervals: 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, and so on until 2008, when collective agreements were extended to last 4 years.

From the 2000s onward, annual wage gains were around 3% or more, but by 2020, unions were accepting average increases of 2% a year. The tourism industry's bosses had used the adverse effects of the pandemic on their market as an argument to pressure the unions into accepting these rather low offers. It should be noted, however, that the 2020 collective bargaining round succeeded in obtaining clauses guaranteeing that people who lost their jobs would be rehired at the end of the pandemic.

Ambitious demands for 2024

The wage increase demanded in this collective bargaining campaign (9%/year) is far higher than in any other collective agreement over the past 20 years. What's more, it goes completely against the grain of the 2020 agreement, which brought modest wage demands at a time when employees feared for their jobs in the midst of the pandemic. By the end of the pandemic, some hotel unions negotiating independently had managed to secure wage gains of more than 2%/year. This was the case for workers at the Hilton Homewood Suites in Tremblant, who obtained an annual wage gain of 4.4% in 2022. 

This year, the workers' demands also include an increase in the employer's contribution to group insurance, and improved training and vacation entitlements. As in most coordinated negotiations, the unions are also calling for the elimination of the use of employment agencies. This year, workers are also asking for their right to decide for themselves how tips are shared to be enshrined in the agreement. 

Which unions will take part in the collective bargaining?

STT (Worker's Union) l'Hôtel classique, which was the first to join the coordinated bargaining of 2024
STT Queen Elizabeth Hotel
STT Méridien de Montréal 
ST Ritz Carlton
STT Holiday Inn Laval
STT of the Quality Suites Pointe-Claire Hotel
STT at Comfort Inn Pointe-Claire
STT at Hôtel Côte-de-Liesse
STT Hilton Garden Inn-CSN, participating in its first coordinated negotiation
STT Le Concorde Hotel
STT Marriott Château Champlain
STT, Ruby Foo's Hotel
STT Hilton Québec, which took part in the very first coordinated collective bargaining (1986), then in all bargaining rounds since 1990.
STT Hilton Laval 
STT Comfort Inn Dorval
ST Hôtel des Gouverneurs Place Dupuis, returns to coordinated bargaining
STT Quality Inn downtown
ST at Residence Inn by Marriott
STT of Faubourg St-Laurent Suites
ST of Manoir du Lac Delage
ST du Bonaventure, who has participated in all coordinated bargaining since 1990
SE en hôtellerie de Roberval, their 1st coordinated bargaining 
Holiday Inn Sinomonde TWU
Syndicat Delta Québec
SE Clarendon Hotel
ST of Pur Hotel
ST Quality Inn Dorval
STT of L'Hôtel Fairfield Montréal Centre-ville
STT of l'Hôtel Clarion
STT of l'Hôtel Delta de Sherbrooke
STT of l'Hôtel Quality

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