Striking cleaners at college campuses in Oshawa and Whitby win “significant” wage hikes

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Published September 12, 2022 at 1:15 pm

A 17-day labour dispute between 70 cleaning staff at Durham College and GDI Services has ended, with workers winning “significant” wage and benefit increases.

The new collective agreement (backdated to January) provides for a 33 per cent financial increase spread out over the next 28 months and an immediate $2 per hour wage hike.

“I am so proud of the courage these cleaners have shown. This new collective agreement is an example of what workers can achieve when they unite and take a stand with the power of a union behind them,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “It was a priority to negotiate tangible improvements that will make a real difference in their pay in a time of record inflation.”

The 70 Unifor Local 222 members provide cleaning services to Durham College campuses in Whitby and Oshawa, Ontario. In a ratification vote held Saturday, the workers voted overwhelmingly to accept the new collective agreement.

The deal is structured to award workers a $1 per hour increase retroactive to January and another $1 per hour upon ratification, followed by a 75 cent bump January 2023, another 60 cent increase in January 2024 and a final 30 cent hike in January of 2024.

An additional 35 cent per hour afternoon shift premium will come into effect next January. As well, employee benefit co-payments will decrease by half in January 2024, putting additional money in workers’ pockets as their contribution share reduces from 40 per cent to 20 per cent.

Theresa Grabowski, Unit Chairperson, said she was “proud” of her co-workers for fighting to improve wages and benefits. “Workers need to know that they have negotiating power if they are willing to band together and demand it.”

The school released a statement that the two sides had reached an agreement and that all campus entrances had fully re-opened.

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