NEWS RELEASE: Strike Vote at Hertz Could Lead to Pickets at YVR

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Employees at YVR, Downtown Locations Vote 100% in Favour of Strike Action

December 2, 2009

Vancouver, BC – A unanimous strike vote by employees at Hertz Rental Cars could lead to a strike at Vancouver International Airport and locations downtown in January or February, says the union representing workers at Hertz. Members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (MoveUP) voted one hundred per cent in favour of strike action on Tuesday, and pickets could be up as early as mid-January.

“Hertz is doing very well locally with several exclusive lucrative contracts, including ICBC, a major tourism boom, and an expected economic upturn, yet they expect their employees to accept major job concessions, zero wage increases, and the replacement of full time positions with part time workers,” said MoveUP President Andy Ross. “Hertz has refused to move, and our members can’t afford to accept this, so we find ourselves facing strike action in January and February,” said Ross.

Media reports have noted that many car rental agencies are actively engaging in price gouging during the Olympic period, raising their rental rates over one thousand per cent for February 2010. For instance, a Ford Focus or similar-sized compact vehicle which normally rents for $18.49 a day is currently renting at $231.99 a day according to Hertz’s website, an increase of 1,254 per cent.

Hertz is offering 0% wage increases in 2010, demanding employees pay for their own parking,  and wants to eliminate full time positions and replace them with part time workers. Starting wages at Hertz for Customer Service Representatives and drivers are $12.44 and $12.86 an hour, respectively.

“Employers who think they can price gouge and profiteer during the Olympics while telling their employees to accept concessions are coming up against a wall of hard, cold reality… a reality that could very likely lead to strike action at YVR,” said Ross. “If we were taking the same approach as Hertz, we would be demanding a wage increase of one thousand per cent, but instead, we’re just trying to negotiate a fair agreement that protects our members’ jobs and benefits,” said President Ross.

All other car rental companies on site at YVR are unionized, as are a range of services at YVR. Picket lines could lead to major disruptions across a broad range of airport services. MoveUP also represents Hertz employees at downtown Vancouver locations which could also see pickets and service disruptions.

MoveUP will be working with the BC Federation of Labour’s Strike Coordinating Committee in order to discuss cooperation and joint action with other unions currently facing job action. The potential strike action at Hertz locations is taking place alongside other disputes including YVR baggage handlers, Vancouver-Whistler bus drivers, MoveUP members at Hastings Racetrack, and ongoing job action including BC paramedics and HandyDART drivers.

Negotiations with Hertz have proceeded to mediation, which will not be complete until mid-January. If an agreement is not reached by then, the union could issue 72-hour strike notice at any time thereafter.

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