The View from Local 2 - October 2019
Fall greetings from SEIU Local 2! I hope that everyone had a terrific summer.
Here at SEIU Local 2 we’ve had a busy and exciting year so far.
A few highlights to note: our Organizers continue to move our program forward out in B.C. in our Janitorial campaign; we’ve secured city-wide bargaining agreements for our Janitors in Toronto and Ottawa (which for the first time ever will include a pension for our members!); we are continuing to grow our membership with about 500 new members in multiple units; we’ve had successful parades and picnics over the summer; we completed our inaugural National Bursary program; and we’ve purchased a new office building in Ottawa which takes us out of our leased space and into a permanent home for our staff and members!
Wishing everyone the best for the rest of the year.
David Bridger, President
Labour Day 2019
SEIU Local 2 National Bursary Program
This summer we launched the SEIU Local 2 National Bursary Program. We are pleased to have had 65 individuals apply, and congratulations goes out to the following winners:
National Award Winner of $2500.00 - Laylah Smith
Central Region Winner of $1500.00 - Christina Pilatzkie
Central Region Winner of $1000.00 - Gelor Mugosa
West Region Winner of $1500.00 - Sophie Damian
West Region Winner of $1000.00 - Nicholas Vaux
East Region Winner of $1500.00 - Katherine Bennett
East Region Winner of $1000.00 - Kaileigh Skinner
The overall message from our winners was…“This means a lot; it will make a huge difference for me and my education.” and said Christina Pilatzkie “SEIU Local 2has supported me in many ways throughout my 10 years as a union member; I'm very appreciative that they've honoured me with their support towards my educational endeavours too.”
The program will be offered again in the 2020-2021 school year!
New Website for Justice for Janitors
We are pleased to announce that JusticeforJanitors.ca has been relaunched. The new and improved J4J website will not only make it easier for non-union janitors to learn about the advantages of forming a union, it also has a Member Resource section that helps members find their union reps contact info, information on becoming a steward, and benefit enrollment forms. There is also a sign-up section for members who want to be more active in the struggle for justice. Check it out and sign up today!
Ottawa Justice for Janitors
Negotiations for the third city-wide collective agreement for janitors in Ottawa took place this summer. After facing resistance to improvements from the Employers, our members put a great deal of pressure on them and managed to reach a tentative deal. Over 600 members came out to vote and ratified their new Collective Agreement now in place! Some wins include a pension plan, wage increases and improvements to health & welfare benefits plans! This fall, the team in Ottawa is working on getting the new contract printed, distributed and implemented.
A thank you goes out to the members of the Bargaining Council for their hard work in representing and mobilizing their fellow workers throughout negotiations and the ratification vote.
Janitors in BC make the most of new successorship legislation!
Janitors cleaning Oxford Properties in Vancouver are organizing and winning unions at their workplaces. On September 12, 2019, sixteen janitors voted 100% yes to join SEIU Local 2 just as the cleaning contract at their building was set to change. These workers are counting on the successor contractor, Bee-Clean Building Maintenance to respect their union and the new successorship provisions that were implemented in the B.C. Labour Code last May.
Just one day after their union vote, the workers at 401 West Georgia Street, some of who had worked at the building for over 6 years signed an open letter to Oxford Properties and Bee-Clean asking that they “accept our wish to form a union, re-hire and recognize our seniority, and negotiate a union contract with us in good faith.”
Inspired by these workers, eight more cleaners at a separate downtown building filed for certification at the B.C. labour board on September 18 with the hope of joining the 401 West Georgia group to fight for dignity and respect at work with the incoming contractor.
Meanwhile, cleaners in Vancouver’s downtown Cadillac Fairview Properties were the first group of SEIU Local 2 members to have benefited from the new successorship legislation.
In August 2019, two cleaning contractors, Alpine Building Maintenance (also known as Cleanmax Building Maintenance) and GDI Integrated Facility Services took over the cleaning contract at Cadillac Fairview’s downtown properties. The transition was very different from when the contracts changed at the same properties in 2018.
This time, workers did not have to engage in a fight to protect their union, jobs and seniority. Unlike last year, the SEIU Local 2 members in downtown Vancouver did not have to re-apply for the same jobs they have been doing for years and face the threat of restarting as probationary employees. Instead the benefit and wage increases that these workers have won through collective bargaining were automatically protected.
There is no doubt that successorship legislation is huge step forward in providing job security for working class people in B.C. and at the same time, provides a significant opportunity for non-union workers to start organizing around job security.
BC Staffing News
In August, SEIU Local 2 in BC hired a new in-house counsel and business agent, Alex Currie. Alex has substantial negotiating and litigation experience. Welcome!
Wine Rack Members Ratify Hard-Fought 2-Year Deal Earlier this summer, our members employed at GTA-area Wine Rack Stores ratified a new 2-year Collective Agreement. Said Union Steward Max Gontcharenko: “It was a hard-fought battle over MIT's (Managers-in-training) and length-of-contract but we punched above our weight. We saw that only through sticking together can we make the Employer back down and in so doing, protect our rights".
New Collective Agreement For SEIU Local 2 Members at Shorelines Slots is Icing On The Cake! As we all now know, the Union achieved a historic victory in saving the track and the Slots (despite the new Casino going forward) and as icing on the cake, following our successful racetrack bargaining Local 2 recently concluded equally-impressive contract negotiations for the Slots members. Highlights include work protection, improved gratuity protection and wage increases. Said Chief Steward Mary-Jo Spaans: “What an amazing accomplishment by our Union to save the track and the Slots and now we’ve successfully negotiated this excellent new Collective Agreement to top it all off. Our members are so pleased and proud to belong to SEIU Local 2.” Predictably, the new 3-year deal was overwhelming ratified.
Members at Bee Clean Hamilton City-Wide Secure New Deal Among the highlights of the new deal are a Health & Dental benefit plan coverage for the first time ever, immediate utilization of vacation time (if they so choose) for sick leave purposes, wage increases and mid-night shift premiums. Not surprisingly, the new 3-year contract was unanimously ratified.
CCS Niagara College Achieve Big Gains. SEIU Local 2 members with Commercial Cleaning Services at Niagara College are pleased to report a number of important contract breakthroughs in their most recent collective bargaining. Said Union Steward Matt Heddon: “We’ve set the bar. We’re the new gold standard in this J4J market and our members are very pleased and appreciative with what we’ve accomplished. This could never have happened without our Union. Thank you SEIU Local 2!”
Education Workers Alliance of Ontario
Education Workers Alliance of Ontario (EWAO), which includes three SEIU Local 2 bargaining units (Superior Greenstone District School Board, Superior North Catholic District School Board and Conseil Scolaire de District catholique des Aurores boreales), met with representatives from the Government of Ontario and Trustee Associations to begin discussing the renewal of the collective agreements which expired at the end of August. In June of this year the parties agreed upon ground rules to provide some additional structure to the process involving the negotiating of Provincial Issues. Through several meetings, the parties have also agreed upon a list of appropriate items which may be negotiated Provincially. Items which are identified to be Provincial, can not be negotiated Locally. October 2, 2019 will be the first day of Provincial bargaining and generally, Local bargaining does not commence until the Provincial process has been completed. All education sector Unions follow a similar process at the same time which makes things very interesting in this particular sector.