July 07, 2011 17:12 ET

UNITE HERE Local 75: Construction Begins at the Hospitality Workers Training Centre

UNITE HERE Local 75, hotel industry partners, allies and friends celebrate the groundbreaking of the Hospitality Workers Training Centre at 60 Richmond Street East

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 7, 2011) -

Editors Note: There is a photo available with this Press Release.

UNITE HERE Local 75, together with hotel industry partners, breaks ground today at the future site of the Hospitality Workers Training Centre, which will be housed at the award-winning Local 75 Housing Co-op at 60 Richmond Street East, the first Toronto housing co-op to be built in over a decade.

The Hospitality Workers Training Centre already offers on-site training in many Local 75 hotels across the city, including classes in English as a Second Language, literacy, computer skills and housekeeping skills.

"Before I took this course, I was scared even to touch a computer," says Filomena Canedo, a Room Attendant at the Le Meridien King Edward Hotel. "The computer class gave me so much confidence and made me want to learn more."

"Many of us don't get a chance to learn something new and improve our lives, we just keep working to support our families and often stay in the same jobs for years and years," says Helen Liu, a retired worker from the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and a former school teacher in her home country. "This training changes how we relate to each other at work and at home and makes us feel we are worth something. It's been so inspiring to be part of this."

Once construction at the Training Centre is completed this fall, much of the teaching will be conducted under one roof. In addition to classroom space, the Training Centre will also house a training restaurant where students can get hands-on instruction in the basics of cooking, serving and bartending, preparing them for entry-level jobs in the hotels' food and beverage operations.

The training centre has two goals. The first is to provide existing Local 75 members with the opportunity to upgrade their skills and move up in the industry. The second is to create opportunities for newcomers to enter the growing hospitality industry by providing the training they need to begin entry-level jobs in Toronto's hotels.

"In the 1980s, I developed and opened a co-operative a month. After a quarter century wait, we have finally completed another and can celebrate with the opening of the Hospitality Workers Training Centre, the last component of the Local 75 Housing Co-op," says City Councillor Pam McConnell. "It is wonderful that the project features both downtown hotel workers and Regent Park residents. Thanks to the partnership of UNITE HERE Local 75, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, my dream has become a reality. Let's not wait this long for our next one."

"Toronto's labour movement applauds Local 75's forward-thinking work in the area of training, which follows in the footsteps of their sisters and brothers in the building trades," says John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. "It is remarkable that Local 75 is looking to serve not only its own members but also future hospitality workers in their diverse communities who may or may not be part of the labour movement yet."

Hotel industry partners are participating in making the Training Centre a success. "We as employers are pleased to be working in collaboration with UNITE HERE on this innovative project," says Kosta Tomazos, whose company CK Atlantis manages the One King West Hotel & Residence. "This is a much needed initiative for the Toronto hospitality industry that has the potential to become the first of many collaborative projects between hotel management and the major hospitality union in Canada."

Local 75 represents over 7,000 hotel, food service and gaming workers in the Greater Toronto Area.

To view the photo associated with this release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20110707-60RichmondStreet800.jpg.

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