SOURCE: Justice for Janitors

Justice for Janitors

August 07, 2015 08:00 ET

Cleaners Ratify Agreement That Includes Family Health Benefits

First Steps in a Pathway Out of Poverty for Thousands of Families

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - August 07, 2015) - 2,500 cleaners and their families are celebrating an important win for working families in Ottawa after members of SEIU Local 2 overwhelmingly ratified their new collective bargaining agreement late Wednesday night.

"I'm satisfied with the deal," said Lemlem Luulay. "While we didn't get everything we were hoping for, it's a deal that puts us on the road to a better future," said Luulay.

Members of the bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement with their employers last Thursday, after returning to the negotiating table with a strike mandate from their membership.

"This kind of work is very demanding on my physical health," said Yvette Thibault, a cleaner at Constitution Square. "Now that we will begin accumulating paid sick days, I'll be able to rest when I'm sick," adding that, "health should not have a price."

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will make a big difference in the lives of thousands of cleaners in the National Capital Region. By the end of the four year deal, cleaners will be earning no less than $13.50 per hour and many will have family health benefits.

Close to one third of cleaners in the City of Ottawa work in federally owned buildings -- the government contracts the cleaning work out to private companies. Other workplaces include properties like museums, post-secondary institutions, and commercial retail properties.

Before ratification of the new deal, most cleaners earned as little as $11.50 per hour and had no medical benefits.

The Service Employees International Union is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and two million workers across Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico.

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