“It was difficult, but we got it done,” said Carmen Barbosa, one of the cleaners at the mall. “It’s an important victory, not just for us, but for other cleaners in Ottawa as well. It shows that when we stand up together, we can win a fair contract.”
Negotiations had reached an impasse with the holiday shopping season around the corner. GDI was looking for numerous concessions from the janitors, who had been working without a contract since 2018. The workers joined SEIU Local 2 in August and negotiations began in September.
Numerous other provisions, including holidays, paid sick days, vacation, emergency leave, bereavement, pension and lay-off language were successfully protected and remain as per the expired CUPE agreement. Local 2 takes over providing benefits with the employer paying $175 per month for each eligible employee.
Employees hired after the ratification of the agreement will have all their terms and conditions of employment as per the Ottawa City Wide Agreement, which will be renegotiated in 2022. Carlingwood Mall has been added as an addendum to city-wide CBA.
Key to the workers’ victory was a provision which protects the terms and conditions of employees who worked at the Carlingwood Mall at the time of ratification if they are moved to another work location.
“The security we’ve won in this agreement really gives me piece of mind,” said Martin Mousseau, who has 18 years of service at Carlingwood. “It’s nice to have this headed into the holiday season.”
Many of the 12 employees at the mall have been working there for well over a decade – a handful with 14 to 18 years of service.