As members of THEU, hotel workers in Toronto and the GTA are also part of the CSN. The CSN, a confederation with more than 330,000 members, has achieved the highest standards in Canada for hotel and hospitality workers.
The secret to the success of the CSN in Canada’s second-largest hotel market, Montreal, is that members form the heart of the union and are at the centre of its decision-making processes. Like hotel and hospitality workers in Montreal, here in Toronto and across the GTA, we too are a union that puts us first.
THEU-CSN is a workers’ union – a union in which people decide for themselves. It is a union in which we, the members, make the decisions that affect our lives and our work. It is a union that belongs to us.
Our History and Mission
The Toronto Hospitality Employees Union was born out of the need to create a strong union for the hospitality workers of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Working with the CSN and the high standards won in Quebec, we understood that the time was right to grow our own autonomous union, based right here in Toronto. We wanted to work with the CSN but focus on our specific needs, hopes, and dreams, and run by the hospitality workers in Toronto.
Our union’s constitution and founding documents reflect these aims. THEU-CSN members are at the centre of the decision-making process. Everything we do flows from the decisions made by the membership. Our structures are both democratic and transparent. And our autonomy is guaranteed.
Our mission, as a Toronto-based union, is to safeguard and improve conditions for all hotel and hospitality workers in the Greater Toronto Area, both in the workplace and in our communities. Many of us have worked for years to raise standards and working conditions for hospitality workers. But today we see that these standards are under attack.
We have seen a sharp decline in union presence in our sector, as more and more hospitality workers find themselves working without a union. Non-union workplaces are leading the charge to lower standards for all hospitality workers.
We are responding. We are sending a strong message to hospitality management across the GTA: “This may seem like a game to you, but to us, it is about providing for our families and protecting ourselves at work.” We think outside of the box.
Join us and get ready to change things for the better!
The highest standards, democracy, and welcoming all hospitality workers to our union
Our Five-Star Principles
At the CSN, we use the image of five stars as a symbol to represent hotel and hospitality workers. These five stars represent our pride in ourselves, our work, and our union. At the THEU–CSN, each star represents one of our founding principles – our A, B, C, D, E of “The ‘U’.”
“A” is for Autonomy
- The THEU is an autonomous union. That means that we, the members of the THEU–CSN, get to make union decisions without outside interference or control.
- But that does not mean that we are alone!
- We are part of the CSN, a well-resourced union with more than 330,000 members, which gives us a powerful set of tools, supports, and allies to help us achieve the goals that we set.
“B” is for Bargaining power and Strong Benefits
- Being part of a strong union means we can win better contracts!
- In terms of collective agreements, currently, CSN members are many thousands of dollars ahead of workers operating under the kinds of agreements existing in comparable Toronto hotels today. This is true in the following areas, among others:
- Vacation leave
Moreover, this is the case even though room rates and the cost of living are higher in Toronto than in Montréal.
How do we achieve this?
- CSN-organized hotels work together during bargaining to achieve the highest standards and best results.
- We are supported by a union with more than 330,000 members and a large team dedicated to assisting hotel and hospitality workers with achieving their goals.
- We will have the support of a Professional Defence Fund (strike fund) of over $110 million!
It has been done before!
- Years ago, hotel workers in Québec were in the same situation that we find ourselves in here in Toronto today.
- UNITE HERE Local 31 was falling apart, corrupt, and unable to represent Quebec hotel workers effectively.
- The hotel workers left to join the CSN, and their standards began to improve.
- When workers from various hotels began leaving UNITE HERE, the CSN brought them all together.
- Regardless of whether they switched unions or started from a non-union hotel, with each new agreement, hotel workers in the CSN began establishing new and better standards for wages and working conditions. These new standards would then serve as a model for all other hotels.
- Employers were faced with two choices: 1) follow suit and make a deal, or 2) refuse to meet standards for their own workers that had already been accepted by their industry competitors.
- Employers who chose option 2 faced the entire CSN organization, which was fighting alongside its workers. The results were remarkable.
The highest hotel standards in North America
By bringing together all hotel workers in rounds of coordinated bargaining, the CSN and its members succeeded in raising industry standards to levels not seen anywhere else in North America. The wages and working conditions achieved by CSN unions over 10 rounds of bargaining are clearly among the best in North America (if not the world).
In 2021–22, staff at over 24 Quebec hotels engaged in a round of coordinated bargaining. By the end of 2021, 17 of these hotels had achieved the CSN’s pandemic standard of wage increases of 8% over 4 years, better job protection – a critical issue during the pandemic – and even better benefits. No concessions were made by the unions.
All this took place while hotel unions in Ontario were settling for wage freezes and 1% increases, and making numerous concessions.
“C” is for Committee and Participation
A union can be truly strong only if its members participate. Many trade unions today limit member participation to acting as delegates to the occasional union conference and as workplace shop stewards – often appointed by union officials rather than elected. Because workers often have no say over who is representing them, many come to feel that the union is some kind of outside organization.
In the THEU – or “The U” – we have a saying: “Be the U!” This is because we believe that the union is not something outside of us. It is ours, and we make it what it is, every day, through our participation. To make this a reality, we are committed to working hard to build a broad membership network, open to all, in order to make our union as accessible as possible so that all our members can participate fully in every aspect of the union, and in achieving its goal of representing and improving the lives of hospitality workers, both in our communities and workplaces. We provide concrete training to anyone who wants to work to ensure that their co-workers are active and informed.
- At the THEU–CSN, we know that a strong union has broad participation from its members. To achieve such a level of participation, THEU–CSN leaders work hard to encourage members to join the workplace union committee, so that there are leaders for every shift and every department classification.
- The greater our participation, the stronger our committee.
- We have better bargaining power to negotiate the best collective agreement, to help others achieve the high standard reached by the CSN Fairmont Queen Elizabeth union
- Management will respect our collective agreement. Management is no longer able to laugh at us and do whatever it wants.
- Management will treat all of us with respect when we are on the job.
“D” is for Democracy
As long-time leaders in the hotel and hospitality sector across Toronto, many of us have learned the hard way how important it is that our union be democratic in all of its decision-making. Our constitution guarantees that all leadership positions – including workplace shop stewards, workplace union bargaining committees for negotiations, union executive board members, and all union officers – are elected directly by the membership in an open, transparent, and regularly scheduled process. These democratic practices are among our core values.
- A democratic union is a strong union.
- The constitution of the THEU–CSN guarantees that members are the ones making important decisions.
- Elected leaders are required to implement member decisions.
- · All union positions are elected by the members themselves.
- Shop stewards are elected every two years by the members of their departments.
- Bargaining committee members are elected by the members of their departments.
- THEU–CSN Executive Committee members are elected by the members of the hotels that they represent.
- At the THEU–CSN, we, the members, are in control of our union!
“E” is for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Members of the THEU–CSN know that we are strongest when we stand together.
- We have come from all over the world to live and work in Toronto. We are of different religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.
- We celebrate our differences and see them as a source of strength when we stand together.
- We will not allow ourselves to be divided by anyone!
- Diversity is one of the greatest things about Toronto. The same is true about our union.
THEU was founded on these principles: a strong union must be democratic and the source of its strength is the participation of the members themselves.
JOIN THE THEU–CSN!
A, B, C, D, E
BE THE “U”!
We are theu-csn
THEU-CSN is a Workers Union
A union where people decide for themselves
Our union is committed to listening to all members, standing up for all of us, and fighting for the specific needs of hotel and hospitality workers in the GTA, both in our workplaces and in our communities.
A union where Toronto’s hospitality workers make the decisions about the issues that affect them
Together, we are committed to building a union that is unique to the hospitality industry – one that is run by hospitality workers, for hospitality workers. All decisions made are our own.
A union committed to improving standards and working conditions for hotel and hospitality workers
We will not accept any lowering of the standards that we have won. We know we can do much better than that – the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth collective agreement proves it. We deserve better!
A union that respects and reflects the diversity of Toronto and the GTA, and brings everyone together to achieve our common goals
Many of us have come from all over the world to make Toronto and the GTA our home. We celebrate our diversity by creating unity and community across ethnicity, race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. We know that when we are together, strengthened by our diversity, we all win.