In a historic win for janitors in British Columbia, over 170 SEIU members at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) have ratified a first collective agreement with significant improvements to their working conditions.
Ninety-five percent of the group, employees of Alpine Building Maintenance, voted in favour of the contract. Key elements of the new contact include language that keeps members at or above the Living Wage in the region as well as an employer-paid health and dental benefit plan.
“For far too long airport cleaners at YVR have struggled. Working families need wages and benefits that our families can survive on,” said Emily Asuncion, a member of the bargaining committee. Emily has been working at the airport for over 10 years on the overnight shift. “This contract guarantees protections that keep us moving in the right direction.”
In the first year of the agreement workers will receive a $1.75 increase, and employer paid extended health benefits. Additional paid personal days were also a big victory for workers in this contract.
In a recent poll Vancouver was rated as one of the top five most expensive cities in the world, with surging cost of living prices and a major crisis in affordable housing. But Alpine workers at the Vancouver International Airport are showing workers everywhere that there is a solution. Working people can come together to win the increases and protections that working families need.
“It took a long time, but I’m happy with the result because we are now protected. I now understand how difficult it is to organize everyone together, but in the end we did it and we won,” said Aurora Opedia, a bargaining committee member who has been at YVR since 2017.
Cleaners at the airport began to organize a union with SEIU Local 2 in the summer of 2021. A vote to join the union was held in September but Alpine challenged and delayed the process and the ballots weren’t counted until December.
Alpine Building Maintenance is a national cleaning contractor that manages approximately 100 million square feet of commercial space across Canada.