Justice for Janitors at Oxford Properties
What’s happening at Oxford Properties in Vancouver?
In September 2019, the janitors at 401 West Georgia and 355 Burrard decided to come together to unionize so they could win job security and better working conditions for their families.
Shortly after those workers won their union, Bee-Clean janitors at another Oxford site, 1055 West Hastings, also voted to unionize and join SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaign.
Since then, the workers at the three Oxford buildings have reached out to Bee-Clean to set dates for bargaining a collective agreement but, until today, Bee-Clean has refused to give the workers any bargaining dates.
Furthermore, Bee-Clean has raised legal challenges at the BC Labour Relations Board in its effort to stall negotiations and thwart momentum in the organizing drive.
Bee-Clean Building Maintenance is a huge national contractor that cleans up to 250 million square feet across Canada. This year, Bee-Clean took over all the cleaning contracts from Supra Properties Services Ltd. at its Oxford Properties in Vancouver.
After the workers at 401 West Georgia and 355 Burrard unionized, Bee-Clean attempted to displace almost all of the newly unionized workforce, arguing that the new successorship provisions should not apply to this group of workers.
The BC Labour Relations Board held an expedited hearing on this matter and ruled that Bee-Clean is the successor contractor at the two Oxford Properties. This meant that the janitors’ jobs were protected and that they have the opportunity to negotiate much needed improvements at their workplace.
Last May, the BC provincial government amended Section 35 of the BC Labour Code to include successorship provisions for building cleaners and other contracted workers facing precarity during contract flips. These new provisions apply only at unionized worksites.
Previously, workers were forced to re-apply for the same jobs they had been doing for years with no guarantee that the new company would re-hire them. This is still the case for janitors working at non-unionized worksites.
For more background information, please refer to the September 30, 2019 press release.