Unionized Janitors’ Jobs now Protected When Contracts Change

Cleaners in Vancouver’s downtown Cadillac Fairview Properties are the first group of SEIU members to benefit from new successorship legislation

Vancouver, BC – This month, two cleaning contractors, Alpine Building Maintenance (also known as Cleanmax Building Maintenance) and GDI Integrated Facilities took over the cleaning contract at Cadillac Fairview’s downtown properties. The transition was very different from when the contracts changed at the same properties in 2018.

This time, workers did not have to engage in a fight to protect their union, jobs and seniority. Unlike last year, the SEIU members in downtown Vancouver did not have to re-apply for the same jobs they have been doing for years and face the threat of restarting as probationary employees. Instead the workers’ wage and benefit increases, that they won through collective bargaining, were automatically protected.

Workers celebrating contract win
Cleaners who work for Alpine Building Maintenance (also known as Cleanmax) were able to keep their jobs and union in the most recent contract change.

Unionized workers have been fighting for years to have successorship rights implemented in British Columbia. And while this legislation exists in other Canadian provinces, it finally became official in BC on May 30, 2019.

SEIU member Mary Jane Bayangos fought with her coworkers in February 2019 and avoided a contract change at BC Hydro’s unionized properties. Their fight did not go unnoticed and the law finally did change!

What this new legislation means for contracted workers in janitorial, security and food service work is that when a contract does change from one contractor to another, unionized janitors will not lose any of the gains they fought hard to win. Any new contractor is required to re-hire all the workers and recognize their seniority and existing union contract. This has been a huge step forward in giving working class people the job security and peace of mind they deserve. These legal protections however only apply to unionized workplaces. So for janitors who continue to work at non-union sites, now more than ever, it is your time to form a union and start building collective power at work.