Janitors at Vancouver International Airport Win Union with SEIU Local 2

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Richmond, BC – Janitors cleaning at YVR are celebrating their victory today after learning that 90% of the workers voted yes to join SEIU Local 2.

“We are really so happy to finally know the results of our vote after a three month wait,” exclaimed Aurora Opeda. “We are now all looking forward to be able to negotiate better working condition with our Employer.” Aurora works the day shift at YVR and has been working at the airport since 2017.

It took three months for the ballots to be opened due to legal objections brought forward by Alpine Building Maintenance Inc at the BC Labour Relations Board. These objections have only served to delay the counting of the ballots and the ability for workers to engage in meaningful negotiations with Alpine. These objections have only served to delay the counting of the ballots and the ability for workers to engage in meaningful negotiations with Alpine.

“We unionized so we can have protection against contract changes at YVR. I have worked at YVR for almost 7 years, and it would not be fair if I needed to start from scratch and lose all those years of service” explains Emily Asuncion, who works on the overnight shift. “This will definitely be a priority for all of us at bargaining and of course, winning yearly wage increases that keep up with the cost of living.”

The workers began organizing over the summer months and voted for the union in mid-September when the whole cleaning contract at YVR was still under Dexterra Group. On October 1, Alpine took over most the cleaning contract at YVR, while Dexterra continued to have the contract for sanitizing.  

For years, the janitors at YVR have worked for low wages, limited access to health benefits and had no paid sick days. While some experienced layoffs during Covid, many of the janitors continued to come to work to keep YVR safe for passengers and all YVR staff and workers.  

Prior to Covid-19, YVR was the fastest growing airport in North America. When comparing 2019 to 2018, the airport saw an increase of 459,000 total passengers, bringing 2019’s total passengers to 26.395 million. This upward trend has been continuing for years, only pausing when COVID hit in 2020, dropping the total year’s passenger count to 7.3 million.  

Nonetheless, with the holiday season approaching and expected travel returning to pre-Covid levels, the work of cleaners at this international airport could not be more important.