Cleaners representing five post-secondary campuses in BC are asking the Labour Board to respect the workers’ wishes and open ballots cast in January.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – A worker delegation from Best Service Pros delivered a petition early Wednesday, signed by the majority of workers, insisting that the BC Labour Board “allow workers to decide” by opening the ballot box and counting their votes.
“Not having the ballots counted has crushed the enthusiasm we felt when we knew the Labour Board ordered a vote to happen and the feeling of accomplishment we all felt on vote day,” said Yolanda Florendo, a worker at BCIT that has been leading the union drive at her campus to leave CLAC and join SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaign.
The petition signed by Best Service Pros cleaners at BCIT, VCC, UBC-Okanagan, Langara College and Capilano University stated that “on January 18, 2018, we had a vote where we were finally given the chance to choose what union we want to represent us. Unfortunately, the legal objections that have been raised on our application have risked not having the ballots opened.”
Both CLAC and Best Service Pros have objected to the workers’ union application with SEIU Local 2, which would see CLAC completely displaced from these public post-secondary institutions.
“The process alone of making it to a vote was a big challenge for us, and at times very stressful because Best and CLAC worked together to spread fear and doubts among my co-workers,” said Florendo.
SEIU has filed over 50 individual incidents of unfair labour practices at the BC Labour Relations Board in response to a coordinated and aggressive anti-SEIU campaign launched by Best and CLAC.
“Having the chance to vote and have our voices heard gave us a lot of hope that we can finally start making improvements at work and start building towards a better future with other Best workers at campuses in BC,” said Roshawn Nicholson, a worker at UBC-Okanagan.
“I believe workers should have the right to choose a union and that’s why our votes should be counted,” added Nicholson.
In conjunction with the delivery of the petition, a website was launched outlining the campaign and organizing efforts of Best Service Pros workers to form a union with SEIU and fight for better wages and working conditions (www.bestworkersdeservebetter.com).
CLAC is known to be an Employer-dominated union within the Labour Movement in Canada and often negotiates sweetheart deals with Employers at the expense of workers’ rights and working standards.
Best Service Pros contacted CLAC in May 2016 and signed a 10-year ‘Voluntary Recognition Agreement’ behind closed doors and without the participation of a single worker, leaving workers at public post-secondary institutions trapped in a decade long poverty deal.
Currently, the BC Labour Relations Board is conducting public hearings on whether the CLAC contract constitutes a valid collective agreement. SEIU maintains that the CLAC contract is invalid and has been used as a strategy to prevent workers from being part of real unions and participating in collective bargaining.
SEIU Local 2 is engaged in organizing Best Service Pros workers across the province.
SEIU’s Justice for Janitors is a movement of workers that has successfully organized to improve wages, benefits, and job security for over 7,000 janitors across Canada. SEIU’s goal is to organize all janitors in BC, so together, workers can raise industry standards and reverse the race to the bottom.