“We are all very excited about winning our union at Capilano Mall. Now, we are looking forward to winning a strong union contract,” exclaims Gerry Langbis, a day shift worker at Capilano Mall. “It’s very difficult to survive on low wages and to be working without any paid sick days. For the few full-time workers that have access to health benefits, we must pay the premiums ourselves, which is hard when we are already making such low wages. These are issues we all want to address during bargaining.”
The workers, who began organizing in February 2021 are the first group of Dexterra workers in British Columbia to win their union with SEIU Local 2, but will not be the last.
“We hope that our victory can motivate janitors at other Dexterra shopping centres and worksites to organize their workplaces,” says Carrianne Greyeyes, who works as a porter at the mall. “The most challenging part for us was overcoming this idea that it can’t be done and breaking down the misinformation being spread about unionizing.”
Three previous Dexterra sites that unionized in 2020 and 2021 were organized in the context of a contract flip, meaning the former Dexterra employees were able to protect their jobs and seniority but bargaining was done with the successor cleaning contractor. This time, Dexterra workers at Capilano Mall will begin bargaining directly with Dexterra for a first collective agreement.
“We have shown that it can be done and are confident other Dexterra janitors can also do it. Of course, with more workers joining the Dexterra union [in BC], we will for sure be stronger together,” says Greyeyes.