Cleaners at Loyalist College in Belleville vote to Strike

SEIU Local 2 says Compass Canada has been dragging their feet at negotiations, even as the fall semester approaches

BELLEVILLE, Ontario, Aug. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Students at Loyalist College could be arriving to quite the scene when the fall semester commences. The cleaners who work at the College, employed by Compass Group Canada, could be walking the picket line, instead of cleaning their school. Through a recently held vote, members overwhelming supported a strike mandate.

The workers, who are members of SEIU Local 2, have been without a contract since the end of December 2022, and their last raise came in January 2022. Negotiations for a new contract began in March of 2023 but the employer has failed to provide any monetary proposals and has delayed negotiations. Workers say they’ve had enough of the delaying tactics and have now noted to strike.

“It’s ridiculous that we’ve been without a new contract this long,” says Sharon Hamilton. She predates the cleaning contractor at the College and has been working at Loyalist for about 14 years.

“Almost everyone who is working here is living with other family members because we do not get paid enough to live independently,” says Hamilton. “We need to have this company step up and pay us what we’re worth. We work our butts off.”

Hamilton says it’s difficult for Compass to retain staff because the pay is too low. She works from 7 PM – 3 AM and has been making $15.70 since January 2022.

“I can’t even begin to remember all the co-workers I’ve had since 2009. We need better pay and it’s a sham we’ve gone this long without a decent raise.”

“When we got our last raise, the cost-of-living was already high,” says Maggi Lynch, who has working at the College for nearly three years. “Since then, it has skyrocketed to where none of us can keep up with it. Everything keeps going up, yet our wages have stayed the same. It’s impossible for us to keep up with it.” Lynch also works 7 PM – 3 AM and makes $15.70.

“The frustration that we’ve been feeling with this bargaining process over the last number of months,” says Lynch. “Workers will absolutely go on strike.”

The College includes more than 590,000 square feet of space at its Belleville and Bancroft campuses, supporting programs and services for close to 3,000 full-time and 12,000 part-time students each year.

Located on more than 200 acres in the Bay of Quinte region, the College is positioned between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Loyalist College offers more than 70 full-time diploma, certificate and apprenticeship programs in biosciences, building sciences, business, community service, health and wellness, media studies, public safety, and skilled trades.

The cost for a school year (two semesters) is over $4,000. Specialty programs have different costs, some as high as $11,000 for three semesters. International student fees are nearly $17,000 a year.

The workers clean classrooms, offices, washrooms, residences and communal areas. More than 30 workers are represented at the negotiations.

SEIU Local 2 represents approximate 20,000 workers in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Alberta. We are proud members of the largest, fastest growing and most dynamic union in North America.


DATE: August 17th, 2023
CONTACT: Sharoni Mitra | 613-698-2851