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STAR VANCOUVER: BC-Hydro Janitors Fend Off Contract Flip

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Dignity & Respect for Workers Cleaning BC Hydro Buildings!

Less than a year after ratifying a new collective agreement at BC Hydro properties in the Lower Mainland, over 50 contracted cleaners now risk losing everything they gained as well as their jobs. With a union, they have a means to fight back.

Worker delegation met with BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley and hand delivered a letter asking him in person to step in and act to protect the workers’ jobs.

Worker delegation met with BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley and hand delivered a letter asking him in person to step in and act to protect the workers’ jobs.

“Our contract is going to end soon” said Mary Jane Bayangos, a cleaner at BC Hydro’s tower on Dunsmuir in downtown Vancouver, “another company will be taking over. This contract flip has been very stressful on us because it could mean risking our jobs, wages, benefits and privileges that we used to have in our old contract, which we fought hard for.”

BC Hydro, whose properties are managed by Brookfield Global Integrated Services, a multi-billion dollar real estate entity, announced in the fall of 2018 that they were retendering the cleaning contract at their properties in Surrey, Burnaby and Vancouver. In January 2019, the Crown corporation and its property manager awarded the contract to a giant non-union company, Alpine Building Maintenance.

Contract flipping is a routine practice in the cleaning industry, allowing property managers to erode the working standards of their cleaners through the retendering of contracts to the lowest bidder. Worse still, new contractors are under no obligation to rehire the existing staff, regardless of how long they may have held those jobs. While most provinces have addressed this grotesque practice through their own labour codes, the British Columbia Labour Code is still without successorship rights. Workers in B.C are forced to reapply for their jobs with the successor company under worse contracts and with lesser standards. “… its frustrating that after seven long years of service, I have to apply for the same job again, and might lose everything” Bayongos said.

Although BC Hydro, and its CEO Chris O’Riley, claim to have required the new contractor to rehire all existing staff and match current wage and benefit plans, less than three weeks from the contract change no worker has been offered a position.

Janitors from the BC Hydro site in Surrey.

Janitors from the BC Hydro site in Surrey.

Janitors from the BC Hydro site in Edmonds.

Janitors from the BC Hydro site in Edmonds.

Alpine Building Maintenance has met with the staff that are currently employed by GDI and represented by the Service Employees International Union. But in these meetings Alpine has repeatedly told the workers that they are a non-union company and presented mixed messages on what exactly the terms of employment will be.

On Monday February 4th, a delegation of workers attempted to deliver the signed open letter to Brookfield’s corporate office on Howe Street in downtown Vancouver only to be turned away at the door. They then met with Chris O’Riley, hand delivering the letter to him and asking him in person to step in and act to protect the workers’ jobs.

READ OPEN LETTER

READ OPEN LETTER

“No one is happy about this transition because it could mean that we are going to start from scratch again and everything we have fought for will be in vain. As for my co-workers, some are close to retirement age, it worries them that they might lose their jobs and it would be hard for them to find a new one” Bayangos commented.

Over 80 percent of the cleaners at BC Hydro are women and nearly 100 percent are newcomers to Canada. These workers are using their collective power to show BC Hydro, BGIS and Alpine that they cannot simply be run over. Workers are upping the planned actions in the coming weeks until their demands are met.

 

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BC Hydro janitors’ fight to keep union and jobs makes front page of Star Metro Vancouver

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Daily Hive covers cleaners rally at Canada Line in Vancouver

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B.C. government pressed to strengthen labour laws at Vancouver rally (Global News)

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Georgia Straight covers cleaners fight at Canada Line in Vancouver

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GDI Workers rally for job security!

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In front of Canada Line and Cadillac Fairview Buildings – Large sidewalk at Granville and West Georgia intersection.

In front of Canada Line – Large sidewalk at Granville and West Georgia intersection.

BACKGROUND

The Service Employees International Union, Local 2 represents 16,000 workers across Canada including over 10,000 workers in the janitorial sector.

Without successorship rights for workers in BC, another fifty GDI employees are still facing the prospect of losing their jobs at Canada Line as the result of contract flipping. Tricom, the new cleaning contractor, has informed SEIU that they will not hire any of the GDI workers.

Protrans (Canada Line)
GDI has been cleaning the Canada Line for eight years and received good reviews from Protrans. Even so, on August 20, GDI workers were given lay off letters informing them that they are losing their jobs on September 17, 2018. The new company, Tricom, has informed SEIU that they do not intend to hire any GDI workers.

Weak Labour Laws in BC!
The decision to award the cleaning contract to the lowest bidder is a clear effort to increase profit margins through union busting, which is easier to achieve thanks to BC’s weak labour laws.

The absence of successorship provisions in the BC Labour Code creates a situation where companies can exploit contract flipping by not hiring the current employees and consequently, circumvent collective bargaining agreements and lower working conditions

WE DEMAND:

1) Give us our jobs back immediately
2) Respect our union and union contract
3) Better Labour Laws that don’t allow for union busting

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UBCO cleaners overwhelmingly vote yes to join SEIU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 16, 2018

UBC-Okanagan cleaners overwhelmingly vote yes to join SEIU Local 2 after defeat of boss ‘union’

A 90 percent yes vote sends strong message of cleaners’ commitment to be part of a real union at public post-secondary institutions in BC

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA –– Cleaners at the University of British Colombia-Okanagan campus celebrate a massive victory after voting Tuesday to join the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) Local 2.

“We have finally liberated ourselves from CLAC,” exclaimed Roshawn Nicholson, a cleaner at UBC-Okanagan and one of the worker witnesses that testified at the BC Labour Relations Board earlier this year. “The most powerful part of this process has been us coming together to demand the respect we deserve. There is power in unity and we are undeniably unified,” said Nicholson.

Their victory comes less than a month after the BC Labour Relations Board declared the ‘union’ contract between the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) and the cleaning contractor, Best Service Pros invalid, and only 2 weeks after another major win for the Justice for Janitors movement at the British Colombia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

SEIU Local 2 had challenged the contract, arguing that CLAC colluded with Best Service Pros to force a 10-year backroom deal on workers.

“We were sure it was only a matter of time before we were victorious,” said Nadia Khlafa, another Best cleaner leading the union drive at UBCO. “We as workers face a lot of exploitation and abuse in the cleaning sector and know that by being part of Justice for Janitors, we finally have a voice and our managers will be held more accountable for the decisions they make.”

July 10, 2018 – Contracted cleaners with Best Service Pros gather for a final picture before voting yes to join SEIU and bring the Justice for Janitors movement to the UBC-Okanagan campus.

July 10, 2018 – Contracted cleaners with Best Service Pros gather for a final picture before voting yes to join SEIU and bring the Justice for Janitors movement to the UBC-Okanagan campus.

The UBCO win adds momentum to workers’ ongoing union drive with SEIU at the Vancouver Community College and Langara College, which are the last two campuses under Best Service Pros that fought to get out of CLAC.

With UBCO joining the cleaners at BCIT and Capilano University, over 200 cleaners will continue building a stronger union and keep fighting for better working conditions at BC’s post-secondary institutions.

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 standards in the janitorial sector and reverse the race to the bottom.

For more information, please visit www.bestworkersdeservebetter.com

CONTACT INFORMATION

Christine Bro: 778-996-4008, cbro@seiulocal2.ca

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BCIT cleaners win vote to join SEIU Local 2 after defeating boss ‘union’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 

June 27, 2018 

BCIT cleaners win vote to join SEIU Local 2 after defeating boss ‘union’

Victory at BCIT boosts resolve of cleaners at post-secondary campuses seeking to join SEIU’s Justice for Janitors movement

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA –– Cleaners at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) celebrate a huge win in forming their union with the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) just one week after the BC Labour Relations Board declared CLAC’s contract with the cleaning contractor, Best Service Pros invalid.

SEIU Local 2 had challenged the contract, arguing that Best Service Pros, conspired to make a 10-year backroom deal with the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), a known Employer-sided ‘union,’ and imposed the contract on the workers.

“Wow, we feel so happy today and are truly celebrating,” exclaimed Yolanda Florendo, a Best worker that led the union drive at BCIT and was subject to various forms of intimidation by the Employer and CLAC. “Despite all the games and rumors spread by CLAC and Best to scare us before vote day, we came out victorious in the end.”

The BCIT win was welcomed by other Best Service Pros cleaners currently organizing with SEIU at Langara College, UBC-Okanagan, and the Vancouver Community College.

“It’s about time to get united and we are making the right choice with SEIU who are supporting us in our struggle as janitors,” explains Nadia Khlafa, a Best worker at UBC-O. “It’s only a matter of time until we are standing together under one SEIU banner as winners.”

After an 18-month long fight, over 100 cleaners at BCIT will now be joining the Best cleaners at Capilano University, who organized with SEIU in February 2017 and were the first group to resist being trapped in a 10-year CLAC contract.

“We are so happy to hear we are getting stronger and are united in one union,” said Delia Tanza, a Best worker leader at Capilano University. “We fought so long for this and will now have more power as workers to demand better working conditions from our Employer.”

Best still faces over 50 allegations that they committed unfair labour practices during SEIU’s organizing drive, which are pending before the BC Labour Relations Board.

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 standards in the janitorial sector and reverse the race to the bottom.

For more information, please visit www.bestworkersdeservebetter.com

Contact Information

Christine Bro: 778-996-4008, cbro@seiulocal2.ca

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Cleaners defeat boss union opening door for workers to join SEIU Local 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 18, 2018   —   

Cleaners defeat boss union opening door for workers to join SEIU Local 2

Labour Board declares CLAC contract with Best Service Pros invalid

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA –– In a precedent setting decision, the B.C Labour Relations Board declared Friday that CLAC’s contract with Best Service Pros is invalid.

“This is a good day for justice,” exclaimed Roshawn Nicholson, a Best worker from UBC-Okanagan and one of the worker witnesses that attended the hearings.

The cleaning contractor, Best Service Pros, conspired a 10-year sweetheart deal with CLAC, an Employer-friendly ‘union,’ before hiring a single employee, leaving cleaners at four public post-secondary institutions trapped in poverty wages with no power to bargain collectively.

The Board concluded in its decision that “the ratification process was unreasonable, and the ratification process cannot be relied upon to reflect the true wishes of the employees.”

“The tides are finally turning in our favour,” expressed Nadia Khlafa, another worker with Best Service Pros. “CLAC betrayed the workers by underestimating us and making decisions without our consultation. This is a new and exciting chapter for us in our fight to win a real union and a voice at work,” Khlafa added.

The decision however stopped short in finding that Best and CLAC committed an unfair labour practice in conspiring their backroom deal, concluding that there was not sufficient evidence of collusion.

Best still faces over 50 allegations that they committed unfair labour practices during SEIU’s organizing drive, which are still pending before the Board.

After Best Service Pros cleaners at Capilano University organized with SEIU in February 2017, SEIU launched a larger province-wide campaign against Best to organize cleaners at both non-union and CLAC sites.

From the beginning, SEIU has argued that Best and CLAC duped its employees into accepting a 10-year contract in order to ensure price stability for their clients and have continued to collude to deny workers their right to form a real union with SEIU and engage in collective bargaining.

“In order for us workers to be represented in a fair manner and for our rights to be enforced, we need a union that is for the workers and we simply were not getting that with CLAC,” Nicholson explained.

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 standards in the janitorial sector and reverse the race to the bottom.

For more information, please visit www.bestworkersdeservebetter.com

Contact Information

Christine Bro: 778-996-4008, cbro@seiulocal2.ca

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