The View from Local 2 - May 2019

President’s Message

Greetings from Local 2! This has been a busy time for SEIU Local 2 as we have a major organizing campaign going on in the West, we are continuing our fights against the austerity in the east while still covering the regular work of the Union! Local 2 is proud to be offering a new Bursary program for post secondary education, check it out! Lastly, have a safe summer and we look forward to our Labour Day events in the fall!

Dave Bridger, President

Backlash hits Falls hotel after tourists kicked out for joining picket lines

In support of Workers United Canada, the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2 has cancelled its reservations with Canadian Niagara Hotels for two upcoming events after the company booted two British visitors from their room for joining the Rainforest Cafe picket line.

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Tom Galivan told the Niagara Falls company "we cannot in good conscience" patronize its facilities or stay at any of its hotel properties for an event in October and a national convention scheduled for September 2020.

Brother Galivan said the union was "disturbed by reports in local media" in which U.K. tourist Alan Tomlinson and his daughter Lauren supported strikers on the picket line on April 13, 2019, then were booted from their room at the Crowne Plaza hotel, which is also owned by Canadian Niagara Hotels.

Justice for Janitors Video Release: Doing together what we can’t do alone

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This year has been very exciting for J4J members in BC! After a couple of significant contract flip victories, we are more aware than ever that we, as workers, need to be front and centre of any fights if we want to see improvements at work.

As part of SEIU Local 2’s Justice for Janitors campaign, a series of promotional videos were produced showing the concrete difference for workers who have won a union at work. The first three videos dealt with specific workplace issues that included low pay, no health benefits/sick days and no job security. The fourth video brought the other three together and centred on the voices and experiences of J4J members.

J4J worker leaders in BC acted and were featured in the videos. The purpose of the videos is to inspire non-union janitors not to be afraid and to organize to become part of a larger movement.

The videos can be viewed on our new J4J Landing Page at www.justiceforjanitors.ca or on our Justice for Janitors SEIU Local 2 Facebook Page.

In addition to the videos, posters have been put up at metro stations and trains in Vancouver as a way to direct traffic to the website so that non-unionized workers can fill out forms and start building power at their workplaces.

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National Bursary Program

SEIU Local 2 is pleased to be offering a yearly bursary program that will award up to seven bursaries to full-time students who will be attending a University or Community College.

The bursary amounts awarded will be as follows: three $1000 regional awards, three $1500 regional awards, and one $2500 national award. Regional awards will mean one applicant per region awarded from the West, East, and Central regions of Canada.

For more details and to apply visit: http://seiulocal2.ca/bursary-2019

National Day of Mourning

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Workplace accidents, violence in the workplace and illnesses are preventable and should never be seen as “just part of the job.”

April 28 is the day we remember those whose lives were lost and those whose lives were forever changed because of something that happened in their workplace. It is also the day when we resolve to make every workplace a safe and healthy place to earn a living.

BC Office Merge

In February 2019, SEIU Branch Local 244 moved into the newly renovated office of SEIU Branch Local 300 in Burnaby, BC. It is a welcoming office for SEIU Local 2 members and is a great working space for our staff.

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Working at Heights

At the general membership meeting for Service Master Niagara held in November in St. Catharines, these J4J members received safety awareness training. On the agenda was Ontario’s “Working at Heights” Safety Regulation (Section 85 of the Industrial Regulations).

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Any members wanting more information about Working at Heights in their specific province and/or a quick and informative hands-on safety demonstration of fall-arrest equipment at their next union meeting, contact the Union office. We’re here to help.

Branch 300 — Updates from Gerry Bergunder

We have completed five sets of bargaining between late November 2018 and April 2019. We have one currently on-going with Calona Wines in Kelowna, BC and another that will start sometime in July at Pacific Western Brewery in Prince George, BC.

The first round of bargaining that was completed was at Okanagan Spring Brewery in Vernon, BC. They took a four-year deal. Next was Mission Hill Winery and Mission Hill Boutique in West Kelowna, BC. They have a separate collective agreement but both certifications took a five-year deal. We just recently completed Brewers Distributors LTD Full Goods and Brewers Distributors LTD Bottle Sort in Port Coquitlam, BC. Both contracts were three-year deals.

Full Goods had most of their fleet contracted out, which was grieved. Unfortunately, we lost the grievance but managed to recover some of the fleet back in collective bargaining.

Janitors unionized with SEIU fight back contract flip & win!

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Janitors at BC Hydro celebrated a huge win after averting a contract flip that could have cost them their jobs and union. This victory has a massive impact on the lives of these workers and their families. It means that their union contract and its guarantees are now protected. For two months, the BC Hydro janitors at Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey worksites appealed to BC Hydro, the property manager, BGIS, and the government to find a fair solution to their precarious situation. On February 12, a delegation of 5 janitors from the BC Hydro worksites attended a meeting with Energy Minister Michelle Mungall and Labour Minister Harry Bains in Victoria, BC. Just one day after their visit to Victoria, the janitors received news that BC Hydro would allow the current cleaning contractor GDI Integrated Facilities to keep the cleaning contract. The unions at BC Hydro, represented by both MoveUp and IBEW Local 258 showed deep solidarity to the workers as did the BC Labour Federation, who featured Mary Jane Bayangos, a worker at BC Hydro, in a video lobbying the government to change the law and implement successorship rights in BC (link to video: https://www.facebook.com/bcfed/videos/567495067081604/). All this goes to show that when workers unite, stand up for our rights and fight back, we win.

The Ottawa J4J Council

Ottawa is preparing to negotiate its third city-wide collective agreement with 22 employers in the next few weeks!

A bargaining committee was elected at our general membership meeting in December and since then we have been able to collect more than a 1000 negotiations surveys at site visits and general membership meetings.

Our J4J council has been meeting regularly to strategize and have been trained on mobilization, organizing as well as phone banking our members to encourage them to enroll into our health & welfare benefits plan. We are confident we will be able to win a strong contract for the next four years and look forward to a summer of negotiations, mobilization and victories!

Left to right: Slim Gedeon (Rapid Cleaners) John Bentivoglic (MA Independent), Jacques Kouakou (Services Menagers Roy), Guy Favereau (Allen Maintenance), Yussuf Osman (Domus), Daniel Charlebois (Bee Clean), Russ Waller (Compass), Lyle Skrapek (Domus), Fidele Bengai-Lala (Evripos), France Chartrand (Evripos), Tobi Rawlins (GDI), Natalie Guiteaud (Hallmark)

Left to right: Slim Gedeon (Rapid Cleaners) John Bentivoglic (MA Independent), Jacques Kouakou (Services Menagers Roy), Guy Favereau (Allen Maintenance), Yussuf Osman (Domus), Daniel Charlebois (Bee Clean), Russ Waller (Compass), Lyle Skrapek (Domus), Fidele Bengai-Lala (Evripos), France Chartrand (Evripos), Tobi Rawlins (GDI), Natalie Guiteaud (Hallmark)

Bargaining Updates

Doral Holdings (Welland, ON) - After some often difficult bargaining, our members employed as cleaners/maintenance staff at the Seaway Mall ratified their new 3-year collective agreement.

Salvation Army Thrift Store (London, ON) - Members at the Salvation Army London Thrift Store recently ratified their new collective agreement providing for an impressive number of contractual gains.

Bee-Clean Niagara (St. Catharines, ON) - Our Bee-Clean Niagara members ratified a 3-year deal with incredible wage and benefit breakthroughs and making them the highest paid J4J members in the Hamilton/Niagara market!

Commercial Cleaning Services (Fairview Mall, St. Catharines, ON) - Members at this J4J bargaining unit recently ratified their new 3-year collective agreement. Monetary increases and the health & dental benefit plan puts them ahead of the non-union janitorial contract cleaners in Niagara.

Bee-Clean (Hamilton City Centre, ON) - The cleaners at this shopping mall decided to unionize in 2018. Negotiations for a first collective agreement provided a multitude of new rights and entitlements never enjoyed before.

SEIU Local 2 in the East Coast is on the Forefront of Organizing the Unorganized

There has been a flurry of organizing drives and certification votes in Nova Scotia that have grown our membership and given momentum for ongoing organizing in a range of sectors.

Workers at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, a federal museum and important Halifax landmark, have successfully formed a union with SEIU Local 2. The official certification order came in March and brought upwards of 70 new members into the union. A victory party was held at SEIU’s Dartmouth office for these new members, who are now highly engaged and working on proposals for bargaining. 

After several attempts over the past years to organize janitors at Park Lane Mall, Cleanmark’s largest janitorial contract in Nova Scotia, we finally had a breakthrough and filed for a certification vote. The ballots were opened earlier this year and we were successfully certified. This unit is now currently in bargaining.

We organized workers at the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax. This is the largest Sexual Assault Centre east of Montreal, providing therapy, counselling, legal and community education services as well as Nursing support within hospitals. The ballots are yet to be counted, but we are all very confident that it will result in certification.

In April, a long-term organizing drive at the Halifax Convention Centre and the Scotiabank Arena which started last summer came to a vote. The proposed unit (of about 35 members) is for all event services technicians who work for Events East, a government entity, in both facilities. Those votes are yet to be counted due to a dispute over the inclusion of casuals.

Most recently, we are preparing an application for a certification vote at Shelter Nova Scotia’s Barry House Women’s shelter. With every new certification comes new opportunities to organize in related and overlapping fields.

Let’s continue leading the way in organizing the unorganized across Canada!

Kawartha Downs Members Get New Lease on Life and Ratify New Collective Agreement

Chief Steward Kellie Warren (left) and fellow F&B member Sherry Lessard-Hayes (right) celebrate Local 2’s successful campaign

Chief Steward Kellie Warren (left) and fellow F&B member Sherry Lessard-Hayes (right) celebrate Local 2’s successful campaign

When Shorelines Gaming announced it was building a full-service casino in downtown Peterborough, they also announced the permanent closure of Slots at Kawartha Downs, which meant approximately 100 of our Kawartha Downs racetrack members employed in the Food & Beverage, Security and Mutuel departments were staring down permanent job losses. In response, SEIU Local 2 mounted an intense “Save the Kawartha Downs Slots” campaign.

By pounding away at Doug Ford daily in the local media regarding these 100+ job losses, the Ford government started feeling the heat and suddenly announced Slots at Kawartha Downs would be reopening. Victory!

With the re-opening, SEIU Local 2 got to work and negotiated a new 3-year collective agreement with Kawartha Downs, which was—not surprisingly—unanimously ratified.

Woodbine Members Ink New 3-Year Deals

Members employed in the Property Services, Security, and Start Gate departments at Canada’s largest racetrack recently ratified new 3-year collective agreements.

With this agreement is an expanded recognition clause now incorporating casual employees into the bargaining unit (increased bargaining strength), many upgraded improvements and also negotiated for all three bargaining units was strong protection curtailing use of video surveillance in the workplace.

 

Leadership Academy

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The SEIU Local 2 Leadership Academy helps us build and develop the collective strength, analysis and skills we need to more deeply integrate ourselves into a broad progressive movement to address economic and social inequality. In the workshops we cover topics such as Social Movement History, Power and Social Change, and Practical Leadership and Activist Skills.

Toronto will be your next opportunity to participate in the Academy. Sessions will take place on Sept. 28, Oct. 26 and Nov. 23 in downtown Toronto. To register or for more information, notify your union rep or contact Diego Mendez at dmendez@seiulocal2.ca or by calling the office and dialing extension 215.

May 4, 2019—Local 2 members in the Valley in Nova Scotia are the most recent participants in the workshops. Left to right: Jean Williams, Elizabeth Porter, Caitlin Langille, Zoe Graves, Suzanne Stewart, Jean Kelly, Josh Harvery, and Kathy Sandford.

May 4, 2019—Local 2 members in the Valley in Nova Scotia are the most recent participants in the workshops. Left to right: Jean Williams, Elizabeth Porter, Caitlin Langille, Zoe Graves, Suzanne Stewart, Jean Kelly, Josh Harvery, and Kathy Sandford.