Close to 50 Justice for Janitors leaders from across the GTA gathered in downtown Toronto on June 10th to discuss a plan to get the remaining cleaning contractors to agree all workers need significant raises as well as other improvements. The goal is to get them signed onto the standards set in the city-wide negotiations.
“We’ve all been experiencing first-hand the steep rise in the cost of living: housing, groceries, transportation, gas, everything!” said Olga da Cruz. “At our wages, even basic necessities are getting out of reach.”
Janitors covered by City-Wide Agreements ratified a new deal containing the largest increases we’ve ever won at the end of April. The new agreement includes other important gains and sets the standard for industry negotiations across the city.
“We negotiated to get what we deserved,” said Nick Almeida, Justice for Janitors Toronto branch president. “Members voted what was the most important: wage increases, improvements to benefits and the retirement plan – and we advanced in all those areas.”
The remaining 1,500 plus members employed by companies with “site -specific” agreements (aka stand-alones) have been in negotiations over the last few weeks. At a minimum, workers expect those companies to agree to the same improvements for their employees. Most of those companies have already agreed to contracts matching the standards set by those negotiations, but a handful remain.
“We’re all hoping to get a fair contract, but some of us are still negotiating,” said Tessie Nadlang to her fellow SEIU Local 2 members. “If there is a point where we’re going to need your solidarity, we would really appreciate it.”
The workers are ready to lead mobilizations against any ‘hold out’ companies and they will face a multi-faceted campaign, including information pickets and media attention.
“By supporting our sisters and brothers covered by ‘site-specific’ agreements as they fight for the same improvements, we not only help them win, but we also protect our gains,” said Nick.
The leaders also discussed plans for the annual summer J4J BBQ, the Labour Day Parade, and fall trainings. More information will be communicated to members in the coming days and weeks, including any calls for solidarity actions.