After over 450 Bee Clean Building Maintenance janitors unionized at the end of 2022, cleaners at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver, British Columbia, have certified their union at the B.C. Labour Board.
“We’ve all asked the company for a raise; we’ve asked them for health benefits. They’ve always said ‘no,’” said Tyler Austen the lead-hand at the Correctional Centre. “I’ve got three kids and my co-workers all have families. Going to the dentist when you have three kids is a $300 bill.”
The Okanagan Correctional Centre is B.C.’s largest jail and is the result of a $200-million public private partnership that opened in 2016.
“It just didn’t make sense to me [that we weren’t unionized],” said Austen. “We work in a government facility where every [other] single worker is unionized, why can’t the janitors also have a union? My main priority is health benefits for my family and for the families of my co-workers.”
Bee Clean is one of Canada’s largest janitorial contractors. This spring hundreds of Bee Clean workers across B.C. along with thousands of other unionized janitors will be back at the bargaining table in the context of a historic cost of living crisis.
Photo Source: https://www.aia.org/showcases/146226-okanagan-correctional-centre