Strike has A-listers seeking alternative routes<br />

Some Hollywood stars carefully avoid protest, others join in

TORONTO -- Hollywood A-listers and striking city hotel workers came face to face Sunday outside the Hyatt Regency, the host hotel for the Toronto International Film Festival.

The confrontation took place at the hotel's back door artist's entrance, where dozens of placard-waving and chanting Hyatt workers called on film directors, writers and actors for support as they entered and exited for TIFF press conferences.

Rolling strikes held on TIFF's opening weekend by Unite Here Local 75, representing unionized hotel workers in the city, returned Sunday to the Hyatt Regency during a one-day walkout staged to back demands at the bargaining table.

The picketers did not block film industry players, including Hollywood actors, from entering the TIFF hub.

Instead, the unionized workers marched and chanted at major hotel entrances and erected an "alternative red carpet" on King Street, directly across the street from Bell Lightbox, which held its official launch party.

Mid-morning, director Danny Boyle and his "127 Hours" cast, including James Franco and Kate Mara, passed through the Hyatt Regency's back door and quickly signed a few autographs before being whisked by nervous security personnel into awaiting limos, as Hyatt strikers looked on.

Hotel worker Abdullah Faruque pointed to support for the temporary work stoppage at the Hyatt Regency from ACTRA, Canada's actors union, and IATSE Local 873.

And while accepting that the Hollywood directors and actors worked as they promoted their latest films inside the Hyatt Regency, Faruque added: "They (actors) can support their families with one job, while we work here and then run off to other jobs to take care of our families."

On Friday, actor and SAG board member Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez joined the Unite Here members on the picket line during a one-day strike at the Royal York Hotel.

The unionized hotel workers have been without a contract since July.

The current negotiations on a new deal are at an impasse, and Hyatt Regency-parent Westmont has called in a provincial mediator to help get both sides back to the bargaining table.

Unite Here officials on Sunday said they expected more labor action at Toronto hotels this week during TIFF, without giving details.
comments powered by Disqus