Janitors across BC’s Shopping Centres are Organizing and Winning a Union at Work

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Vancouver, BC – Janitors at Coquitlam Centre are SEIU Local 2’s newest members in the Lower Mainland that will begin enjoying hard fought union benefits, including yearly wage increases, Employer paid health benefits and paid sick days.

“We are all very happy, especially for the wage increases. Before we were only making minimum wage, which is difficult to survive on. So, it makes a real difference to make wages that will always keep us above the minimum,” says Mirriam Dela Roca. Janitors at all shopping centres deserve fair wages for the hard and important work we do in keeping the public safe,” she added.

The janitors unionized late last year and will see one dollar or more in wage increases, paid sick and personal days, an extra paid statutory holiday (Boxing Day), and Employer paid health benefits that will include part-time workers.

“We are all very excited about the health benefits and wage increases that we have won. This was only possible at Coquitlam Centre because we had the courage to unionize. The wage increases are significant for me and will help us in supporting our families,” says Jouel Dela Cruz. Like many immigrant workers, Dela Cruz also sends money to his family back home in addition to surviving the high cost of living in the Lower Mainland.

While monetary gains are always the most welcome benefits among the workers, many also felt a great sense of security knowing they now have just cause protection and job security in cases of ‘contract flipping.’

“The most important thing is our protection and that’s what we have when we join a union. I want to retire soon and want to make sure I have my job until then and can’t be let go without any reason,” exclaimed Alita Buendia, who works the day shift at the mall. 

The janitors at Coquitlam Centre work for Alpine Building Maintenance. The shopping mall is managed by Morguard Investments Limited and owned by Pensionfund Realty Limited, a privately-held real estate company owned by a number of Canada’s largest institutional investors.