Best Service Pros cleaners at Victoria’s International Airport (YYJ) in BC officially joined SEIU local 2 just before Christmas.
“With the cost of living rising as quickly as it is, our compensation needs to keep pace,” said Edwin Sproll, who has worked at the airport for the past two years. “A union empowers us to put pressure on our employer to make sure we’re being treated fairly.”
The bargaining unit consists of 23 workers. They overwhelmingly voted to join SEIU whom already represent over 700 Best Service Pros workers in Vancouver. The group has been varied into the already-established Vancouver Citywide bargaining group, which was part of an historical victory last summer that provided raises and other improvements for over 2,500 cleaners. The Agreement runs through May 2025.
“During the pandemic, we heard so much about cleaners being essential workers,” said Edwin. “In an environment like an international airport, the work of cleaning and sanitizing is critical to helping maintain public health standards. Our well-being is important too, and forming our union gives us a say as to the quality of our own working conditions.”
YYJ is the 11th busiest airport in Canada, with nearly 2 million passengers passing through it every year. The airport is actually located in the community of Sidney, situated over 30 kilometers outside of Downtown Victoria.
Most of the cleaners work in areas beyond the airport security screening area, and obtaining security clearance is a condition of their employment at the airport.
The Best workers at YYJ are just the latest to join a growing group of cleaners in the Greater Victoria Area who have voted to unionize, including GDI janitors in numerous upscale commercial buildings downtown and Everclean workers at Uptown Mall in Saanich.
The cost of living in Victoria continues to climb. The living wage in Victoria in 2023 jumped to $25.40 per hour, an increase of nearly 5% from the previous year.
“So many of us are trying to support our families with the money we earn here,” said Edwin. “We need to ensure we’re making the highest wages possible if we’re going to stay afloat financially. If the company is trying to maximize their profits, we need to use our collective voice to maximize our earning power as well.”