B.C.-based janitors win benefits, wage boost in first collective agreement

Bee-Clean Building Maintenance janitors in British Columbia ratified their first collective agreement on Monday, winning employer-paid health and dental benefits, paid sick days and a wage boost. 

Employees who are members of Services Employees International Union Local 2 reached the tentative agreement on Friday, mere days before they were set to picket at various locations across B.C.’s Lower Mainland. 

“The benefits are a big victory for us,” said Teresita Garvez, a Bee-Clean janitor who cleans at an office tower in Vancouver, in a press release from the union. “I’m getting older and I need those benefits. Paying out-of-pocket for dental and physiotherapy is difficult. And especially for my co-workers with children, these benefits mean a lot.”

Read: Loyalist College janitors’ new contract includes pension, sick days

The new health benefits cover prescription drugs, health equipment and paramedical services such as vision care and massage therapy. Dependants and part-time janitors will be eligible to enrol. Janitors also won additional paid time off and improved vacation pay.

“Most janitors in British Columbia are non-unionized and work for minimum wage, with no access to paid sick days and health benefits,” said the release. “Janitors seeking to improve these working conditions are increasingly turning to unionization. SEIU Local 2 is experiencing a surge of new members joining from the janitorial industry and will continue investing resources into organizing these essential workers.”

Bee-Clean Building Maintenance didn’t respond to Benefits Canada’s request for a comment.