Union president hopes Waldorf Productions can reach a deal with owner

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The head of the union that represents Waldorf Hotel employees says he wants "common sense to prevail".

Jim Pearson, president of UNITE HERE Local 40, told the Straight by phone that he hopes the operator, Waldorf Productions Inc., and the owner, Waldorf Hotel Ltd., can reach an agreement to maintain the existing business on-site.

"Most of the people working are pretty supportive of the current operators," Pearson said. "I think it's a pretty tight-knit family."

Today, Vancouver city council voted to issue a 120-day "protection order". This would prevent demolition while the city evaluates the building's heritage value.

Waldorf Productions has announced that 60 workers will lose their jobs when the company vacates the East Hastings Street hotel on Sunday (January 20).

The cultural hub includes a popular Tiki bar, art gallery, hair salon, and nightclub.

Waldorf Productions was put on a week-to-week lease after the Puharich family agreed to sell the site to the Solterra Group of Companies, which won't meet with the current operator.

Pearson revealed that there is a "successor provision" in the collective agreement.

This means that if the hotel continues operating after Waldorf Productions leaves, jobs would have to be filled by the existing workforce.

Pearson said his union has not had any discussions with the owner, Waldorf Hotel Ltd., which has claimed that the building won't close.

"We're still hopeful that the current operator will continue," Pearson said. "I mean, it's quite remarkable what they've done down there. It was, as you know, a pretty run-down, beat-up hotel for many, many years. And they really created something there. They created about 60 jobs when there was maybe a dozen or so before."

He added that jobs are "desperately needed" in that part of town.

"I think the Waldorf has contributed to some degree to the revitalization of the area," Pearson said. "And I think it would be a real shame if it went away."

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