Justice for Janitors at
What’s happening at Oxford Properties?
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.
After the workers unionized, Bee-Clean took over the cleaning contract from a prior company, Supra Properties Services Ltd. Bee-clean subsequently attempted to displace almost all of the newly unionized workforce, arguing that the new successorship provisions instituted last year by the BC provincial government should not apply to this group of workers.
Bee-Clean Building Maintenance is a huge national contractor that cleans up to 250 million square feet across Canada.
In May 2019, the BC provincial government amended Section 35 of the BC Labour Code to include successorship provisions for building cleaners and other contracted workers to address job precarity resulting from contract flips. These new provisions apply only to 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.
The BC Labour Relations Board held an expedited hearing on this matter and on September 28, 2019, 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 work and safety improvements.
Bee-Clean hasn’t backed down. It has now brought forth more legal challenges at the BC Labour Relations Board through filing a Reconsideration application to appeal the original successorship decision. Bee-Clean is doing this in an effort to thwart the organizing drive’s momentum and prolong the bargaining process.
Shortly after the workers at 401 West Georgia and 355 Burrard 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.
The janitors at the three Oxford properties began bargaining on December 12, 2019 and are fighting to make improvements on behalf of Bee-Clean workers across the province.
Collective bargaining dates scheduled at the end of March 2020 were postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak and will resume on May 28 & 29.
SEIU launched the Invisible to Essential campaign early April in response to Covid-19 demanding that property owners, managers and cleaning contractors provide cleaners with a permanent $2 enhancement pay, proper Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and to keep workers employed throughout the crisis.
On the week of April 6, 2020, Bee-Clean laid off close to 50% of their staff at the three properties unionized by SEIU Local 2.
Bee-Clean Workers across the Province of New Brunswick have ratified their first collective agreement with SEIU Local 2.
Racism is key to maintaining this unfair and unjust economic system. Racism is used to divide working class people and keep us from uniting to challenge the rich and powerful who benefit from a rigged economy.
In her 37 years working abroad, Loida Ubay has supported her parents and eight nieces and nephews in the Philippines.
The Vancouver Sun Highlights the Link between Janitors’ Poor Working Conditions and Billionaire Property Owners
“I do the work because it’s my job,” said Loida. “It makes it possible for other people to work.”