Cleaners Rally after Filing Legal Complaint against Evripos
Baristas in Halifax brewing up a unique drive to unionize coffee shops
For the first time in Canada baristas have successfully joined together to unionize and improve their working lives. First at Just Us and now at two Second Cup locations baristas are fighting for recognition, security and improved working lives by joining Local 2.
“Throughout North America baristas, fast food and retail workers are standing up for jobs that provide dignity, hours of work and wage rates that provide a living wage” said Local 2 President Cam Nelson, “ in Halifax these baristas have joined Local 2 to make that happen and Together We Will”
Baristas unite: The coffee economy and the future of jobs, by Tamsin McMahon on Sunday, August 11, 2013
Workers at Nova Scotia’s largest cleaning company win benefits & other improvements in historic contract
Halifax Employees of GDI Integrated Facility Services, Halifax’s largest commercial cleaning company, have ratified a collective agreement that will bring them historic gains including health benefits. The newly organized members of the Service Employees International Union Local 2 have won employment standards that, until now, have been unobtainable for workers in the commercial cleaning sector on the East Coast.
“We’re very proud of what we accomplished,” said cleaner Debbie Desveaux, “Working families in Halifax deserve better and we have finally taken a big step in the right direction.”
The contract includes other positive changes such as improvements to vacation pay, sick leave, overtime pay, and seniority rights.
The 300 plus cleaners covered by the contract in the Halifax Regional Municipality join nearly 5,000 cleaners across Canada united in SEIU’s Justice for Janitor’s campaign. The workers are responsible for keeping malls, office-towers, and other workplaces clean and safe.
Traditionally, commercial cleaning has been recognized as some of the most difficult and low wage work in Canada. Work in this industry is typically characterized by low, often minimum-wage pay, no benefits, and extremely arduous working conditions. Justice for Janitors has been changing that in cities like Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and now Halifax.
“This is just the start of a city-wide movement,” said Francine Beattie, a cleaner and member of the union Bargaining Team, “We want to bring the benefit of forming a union to all cleaners across the HRM.”
This contract represents an historic step forward for cleaners in Halifax.
Know your Rights
A worker's choice to join a union is protected by law; an employer must respect employees' right to organize in the workplace. The Ontario Labour Relations Act (the Act) is the provincial law that protects workers. The Ontario Labour Relations Board - the body that governs relations between employers and unions - ensures that workers' rights are not violated if they choose to join a union. Section 5 of the Act gives workers the freedom to participate with the union; it states:
Every person is free to join a trade union of the person's own choice and participate in its legal activities.
The Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Board allows you to:
Read, distribute, and discuss union literature in non-work areas during lunch and other breaks
Talk with co-workers about the union and attend union meetings
Sign a card to join or support the union
Sign petitions related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues
The law in Ontario protects your right to encourage your co-workers to support the union or to sign union cards or petitions. Section 70 of The Act protects your right to join the union free of employer interference, it states:
No employer or employers' organization and no person acting on behalf of an employer or an employers' organization shall participate in or interfere with the formation, selection or administration of a trade union or the representation of employees by a trade union or contribute financial or other support to a trade union, but nothing in this section shall be deemed to deprive an employer of the employer's freedom to express views so long as the employer does not use coercion, intimidation, threats, promises or undue influence.
It is illegal for your employer to:
Threaten or to fire, layoff, discipline, harass or reassign workers because they support the union
Favour workers who don't support the union over those who do in promotions, job assignments, wages, hours, discipline or any other working condition
Discourage union activity by shutting down a worksite or taking away other benefits or privileges for anti-union reasons
Promise wage hikes, promotions, benefits, or special favours in exchange for opposition to the union