Letter from Don Davies and Libby Davies to Rocky Mountaineer President Randy Powell

This is a letter from Don Davies and Libby Davies to Rocky Mountaineer President Randy Powell:

July  7,  2011

Rocky  Mountaineer  Rail  Tours
Suite  101  –  369  Terminal  Avenue
Vancouver,  BC,  Canada      V6A  4C4

Attention:   Randy  Powell
President  and  Chief  Executive  Officer

Dear  Mr.  Powell:

Re:     Lockout  of  workers  by  Rocky  Mountaineer  Rail  Tours

We  are  writing  to  express  our  great  concern  about  the  captioned  lockout  of workers  by management  at  your   company  and  to  urge  your  personal  attention  to help  resolve  the labour  dispute  currently  underway.

It  is  our  understanding  that  Rocky  Mountaineer  triggered  the  current  labour  dispute  by choosing  to  lock  out   its  workers  in  the  bargaining  unit.    We  are  advised  that  the company  has  left  the  bargaining  table  and  is  refusing  to   engage  in  meaningful negotiations  with  the  bargaining  agent  for  the  workers  under  certification.    We  also understand  that  your  organization  is  using  replacement  workers  to  perform  the  work  of your  regular  workforce.

In your brochure, your company very clearly attributes your organization’s success to the commitment, contributions  and  skills  of  your  employees.    Indeed,  you  personally  are quoted  in  this  regard.

Comments  to  this   effect  include:

  • Rocky Mountaineer is the “Best Train Experience in the World”
  • Rocky Mountaineer has “impeccable service”
  • Rocky Mountaineer has “attentive and knowledgeable attendants’, and
  • “Guest service excellence is the foundation of our success.”

In  short,  it  is  apparent  that  your  outstanding  product  is  a  direct  result  of  the  exemplary performance  of  your   staff.    As  a  company  whose  main  product  is  service,  this  is  not surprising.   Your  employees  have  played  a  pivotal  role  in  building  your  enterprise  and  we know  that  they  want  to   continue  to  do  so.    Working  under  a  negotiated  collective agreement  that  is  reasonable  and  fair  to  both  parties  is   required  to  achieve  continued success.

Accordingly,  we  urge  you  to  recognize  this  fact  and  put  your  acknowledged  statements to this  effect  into   practice  by  immediately  negotiating  a  fair  contract  with  your  workers.

With  the  tourist  season  now  in  full  swing,  our  economy  is  also  dependent  upon companies  like  yours   contributing  fully.    Wasting  valuable  time  in  a  protracted labour dispute  that  is  both  unnecessary  and  avoidable  is   harmful  both  to  your venture  and  our community  at  large.

Please  do  whatever  you  can  to  put  an  end  to  this  dispute  and  do  whatever  is  needed to resume  positive  and   respectful  labour  relations  at  your  company.

If  you  would  like  to  discuss  this  matter  in  any  manner,  or  if  we  can  be  of  any assistance  in  this  matter,  please   do  not  hesitate  to  contact  us.

Yours  truly,

Don  Davies,  M.P.                  Libby  Davies,  M.P.
Vancouver  Kingsway                  Vancouver  East

View the pdf here: Letter from Don Davies and Libby Davies to Rocky Mountaineer President Randy Powell

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Letter to Rocky Mountain train from former guest published on Vancouver Observer

Photo from The Vancouver Observer

Photo from The Vancouver Observer

 

<Below is quoted from The Vancouver Observer. Read  the full article here.>

“A letter from Jennifer Dwyer, an Australian lawyer, who enjoyed her time as a passenger on the luxury line, wrote the Rocky Mountaineer Board of Directors, saying that “the best thing about the experience, apart from the spectacular scenery, was the cheeful and friendly enthusiasm of your on-board attendants…” She says she is dismayed by the strike and asks the company “to restore ethical practices.” Her letter follows:

Dear Sir,

I write to you as a former guest from Australia on your service to Banff.  About 4 years ago I travelled on the gold-leaf service and found it a very enjoyable experience.  until recently I had intended to do it again this year with a couple of friends from Australia.  the best thing about the experience, apart from the spectacular scenery, was the cheerful and friendly enthusiasm of your on-board attendants.  they provided service that was efficient, knowledgeable, seamless and second to none that I have experienced over many years of travelling. I have, since then, recommended it to many other Aussies.

Hence, it is with great disappointment that I have recently learned of the manner in which you have locked out from their workplace those same attendants, some of whom no doubt provided the excellent service to which I have referred above.  As I am visiting BC again I went to the station recently, where I spoke to some of the locked out employees.  In the circumstances I was extremely impressed with their courtesy and restraint, particularly so as they were made to serve some of the scab workers on their last shifts before they were locked out.

It would not be surprising to see such tactics employed in a third world country, but this is CANADA!!  I am a lawyer and am astounded that this is occurring to people who love their jobs, who work diligently at them, and who are only trying to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement.  Furthermore, I have made enquiries and have learned that such practices are illegal in BC, and that you are exploiting a loop-hole under the Federal Labour code.

I suppose you may think this is a good idea.  However, it seems to me that the only result will be that you will destroy the excellent reputation of this company that has been built up over many years.

Hence, I thought you may be interested to know that the immediate effect of your strategy is that I and my friends will not be taking the gold leaf service to Banff this summer as we had planned.  A couple of other friends have already booked and fully paid for their trip.  I have informed them of the circumstances and they would  have cancelled had they not been fully paid up.  They intend to explain the true situation to all their fellow travellers onboard.

I have many contacts in Australia and I intend to spread the word about how you are now conducting this business.  I know how heavily the Rocky Mountaineer is marketed in Australia, and I sure you know that word-of-mouth travel fast these days.

I await your reply in the hope that you will resolve this ugly situation, and restore ethical labour practices in your company.  As I will be in BC for the next two months I have provided a local address.”

Three ways to help locked out onboard attendants

How to help locked out Rocky Mountain train onboard attendantsThere are three important ways to help right now.

1. Spread the word.

  • Share links and stories via your social media accounts
  • Write reviews on Tripadvisor and other sites –  Comment online
  • Tell news outlets to cover the story (including bloggers)
  • Tell politicians you want them to support locked out workers

2. Tell the company what you think. Call, write and email them.

Phone: 604 606-7200
Ask for Randy Powell.

email Randy Powell (President and CEO) rpowell@rockymountaineer.com
email Peter Armstrong (Owner) parmstrong@rockymountaineer.com

Write:
Mr Randy Powell
President and CEO
Rocky Mountaineer
Suite 101 – 369 Terminal Ave
Vancouver BC Canada V6A 4C4

Also, tweet the company @rmountaineer and let them know what you think.

 3. Keep in touch. 

 

Vancouver Observer – “Rocky Mountaineer locks employees out”

“Rocky Mountaineer has locked out the service crew that, sources say, has been at the heart of what has made the company among the top grossing businesses in British Columbia. The employees are members of the Teamsters Union.

A first class trip from Vancouver to Calgary on the luxury train ride goes for around $1,800 and has been called, according to the company website, “one of the world’s greatest trips,” by National Geographic.  The company’s ranking on Travel Advisor has sunk since the lock out.”

Read the rest of the article here.

"I worked on the train for 3 years and let me tell you – it is hard work!" – Insight and support from a former Rocky Mountaineer onboard

“I worked on the train for 3 years and let me tell you – it is hard work! The last trip I worked was in December ’99 and I still get random trainmares (nightmares about working on the train). It is hard work and unfortunately the company is not after the best interests of it’s employees. Years ago I thought the company should have profit sharing for it’s employees (like West Jet and various other companies do) to share some of the wealth with its hard working front line staff.

I now work 12 hr. shifts as a RN (different kind of stressful job), and during my 9+ year career as a RN I have often thought “at least I get to go home after 12 hrs” sometimes we stay later but I have never worked longer than 13 hrs. If we miss a break within our 12 hrs, we get paid OT, if we work over 12 hrs, we get paid OT. Why is this not happening for your onboard attendants? Why have you “locked them out”? This perplexes me…

When I worked on the train we were all well aware that everyday was an adventure and it made working the rails exciting however according to the labour code OT is OT! If your attendants end up working 17-18 hrs in a day, why are they denied OT and why in the world do they need to get up 4 -5 hrs later to turn around and work the return trip? In the airline industry employees are guaranteed 8 hrs of crew rest, why is this not happening for your onboard attendants?

I say reward your onboards for the honest hard work they do and let them get back to work…”

Sincerely,
Sarah Alexander

Rocky Mountain train ‘scab’ service gets slammed on Tripadvisor – read recent reviews

tripadvisor rocky mountaineer lockout service reviews
<From Tripadvisor. See reviews here.
“Never again”
Reviewed June 22, 2011

I expected, and paid for, first class service and instead they removed the staff from the train and left me with inexperienced, unproffesional people. The first day on the job for the entire crew. So much for the trip of a life time. If you can work with your staff, please dont use us as pawns to abuse them. I would rather pay a little more and enjoy some stability.

  • Visited June 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
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“Nice Views not worth the price…”
Reviewed June 27, 2011 NEW
3
people found this review helpful

We were on the train for two days in goldleaf from Vancouver to Jasper…The views were beautiful but the train lacked goldleaf service…the attendant forgot my drink 3 times the food was ok and took too long and the washrooms were always dirty and smelly…not worth the money at all….save your money…

Was this review helpful? Yes
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“Lock Out of staff – customer dilemma”
Reviewed June 29, 2011 NEW

We travelled last week on Rocky Mountaineer Journey through the Clouds. First day of a lock out of staff. We had to pass pickets. The staff on board were obviously admin from the office and newly hired youth. They did not have a clue about where we were so the trip was not the service we paid for. Paying customers should not be subjected to this pickets with ‘Scab labour’.
The inexperienced staff did their best but it is not just good enough for the money we paid.
We had to cross picket lines getting on and off the trains.
We feel that we were cheated out of a fabulous trip by the cut in services.

  • Visited June 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
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“Wait out the Labour Dispute if you want your money’s worth”
Reviewed June 29, 2011 NEW

I recently travelled between Vancouver and Whistler and was very disappointed to arrive at the North Vancouver Station to see it surrounded by picketing onboard staff. This really made me wonder if I was going to get what I paid for. I’ve had friends that have done the trip and spoke non stop about the amazing staff. The services were okay but there was definitely a negative atmosphere and the staff seemed to have no energy. I received one drink and had to ask every time I wanted anything. I thought that the talk of the lockout was over only to be reminded by picketing staff at Whistler and again in North Vancouver that I didn’t get what I paid for. I feel like I should get a discount for travelling with an inexperienced crew.

  • Visited June 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
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“An unhappy welcome to Vancouver”
Reviewed June 29, 2011 NEW
1
person found this review helpful

My husband and I arrived back in Vancouver this past Monday to be greeted by throngs of locked out train workers. Had we known far enough in advance that there was a picket line we would have made alternative arrangements for our anniversary. The experience aboard the train was satisfactory although the service was sub-standard. The views were amazing! If this company and its employees could work out their differences we would heartily recommend this adventure.

  • Visited June 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes

Can Rocky Mountain train maintain service excellence with scab workers? Not according to this recent guest.

When Rocky Mountain train guest Susan Clarke boarded the train June 24, she had faith in the company’s promise that “We have a comprehensive contingency plan in place to ensure that your experience onboard the Rocky Mountain### exceeds expectations.”

She soon discovered otherwise.

From her blog:

We just returned from a three week road trip in the US and Canada. I have to tell you there’s a lot to be said for having paved roads and toilets when you’re traveling! One of the things that has been on our “Bucket List” is taking the Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver to Banff. They did a great job selling me on the GoldLeaf service which was almost twice as much as the RedLeaf service. I struggled with paying the extra cost and in the end justified it by repeating my travel mantra which is, “We are only going to do this once.”

Their website states, “Our custom-designed, two level, glass-domed GoldLeaf coach puts you right in the middle of the awe-inspiring scenery of the Canadian Rockies. Take in the dazzling vistas upstairs, and enjoy delightful meals downstairs. From the attentive service provided by your Onboard Attendants, to the gourmet meals prepared from regional cuisine by our award-winning, onboard chefs. GoldLeaf Service is quite simply, as good as it gets.”

On June 20th I received this e-mail stating, “On Wednesday, June 15th, we were served with strike notice by the union. In order to provide our guests with exceptional and uninterrupted service, we had no choice but to give the union lockout notice, effective 12:01 am on June 22, 2011. Please be assured that if there is a labour disruption, it will be business as usual and the Rocky Mountaineer will be operating as scheduled. Guest service remains our number one priority and we have a comprehensive contingency plan in place to ensure that your experience onboard the Rocky Mountaineer exceeds expectations.”

We started that portion of our trip in Vancouver on the 22nd and boarded the train on the 24th. When we arrived at the train station we were met by picketers who blocked the parking lot and were chanting, “We love our jobs.” We boarded the train and took off knowing everything would be great since they said, “We have a comprehensive contingency plan in place to ensure that your experience onboard the Rocky Mountaineer exceeds expectations.”

We sat back in our very comfortable seats and proceeded to read their Mile Post newspaper. The headline read “World Class Service” and went on to say, “At Rocky Mountaineer, our team is committed  to providing service excellence to our guests. Each member is specially trained and committed to ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable journey.  Each coach is assigned On-board Attendants who will do their utmost to exceed your expectations.” And the final paragraph states,” Now that you know more about us, sit back, relax and enjoy our hospitality – Rocky Mountaineer style!”

I probably don’t have to tell you how the trip went. From bad to worse! Our two attendants (for our entire train car) did the best they could provided they clearly had no training (or uniforms). Our gourmet meals tasted like something from a grocery store frozen food section. On the bright side the scenery was beautiful (at least they couldn’t screw that up). I intend to follow up and find out how they plan on exceeding my expectations and when I should expect to experience there service excellence.

Read the whole post here.

Rocky Mountain train onboard attendants want to get back to work and deliver the service that the company’s reputation is built upon. Hopefully the company will end this lockout and come to the bargaining table in good faith.

Rocky Mountain train guest unhappy with scab workers’ service

June 28 from the Rocky Mountain train facebook page – A guest posted an unflattering account of their experience being served by inexperienced scab workers:

Rocky Mountain train guest experience with scab workers during lockout

Rocky Mountain train guest experience with scab workers during lockout

This is just one of several posts describing this person’s experience. To read the rest visit the Rocky Mountain train facebook page and scroll through posts from June 28.

<UPDATE: The posts shown and referenced here have since been removed from Rocky Mountain train’s facebook page>

For the real onboard attendants this is a sad and unnecessary blemish on Rocky Mountain train’s reputation for excellent service.

Note: The guest references “striking attendants” many times throughout the posts. In fact, attendants are not on strike. They have been locked out by the company.