Tropicana workers are exasperated by over a year of management unwillingness to bargain in good faith. On October 21st, the workers overwhelmingly voted through a strike mandate. Workers will be meeting the employer on Wednesday, November 4th in a last attempt to reach a collective agreement. If these talks fail, workers will begin picketing Tropicana as early as the end of the week.
Adrian Yusuf, a Tropicana employee who works in the job placement services, explains his reasons for voting “yes” for a strike: “It’s been over a year that we’ve been trying to negotiate a fair deal with management. We’ve had 15 years of wages freezes and they want us to accept another 3 or 4 years. I can’t hold on for that long.”
Tropicana bills itself as a social justice organization and is majority funded by several governmental bodies, including the Province and the City of Toronto. It gladly solicits and accepts donations from conscientious individuals and social justice-oriented grassroots organizations. But this hasn’t stopped Tropicana from engaging in years of poor treatment and wage freezes, leaving workers behind as Toronto’s cost of living escalates. Even faced with a possible shutdown of the organization due to a worker strike, management insists that workers accept three more years of wage freezes as a condition in the first collective agreement. Tropicana management is also pushing workers to accept clawbacks on existing entitlements, such as paid time off during statutory holidays.
Edith Solano, a worker at the organization’s daycare centre, says: “We pour our hearts and souls into the work we do for Tropicana because we love the community. But we can’t live on such a low wage. Striking is really the last thing we want to do, but after over a year trying to bargain in good faith, we are running out of options.”
Tropicana workers feel that fair working conditions are essential to the organization’s long-term sustainability. They demand that Tropicana lives up to its responsibilities, both towards its employees and the community-at-large.
SEIU Local 2 represents workers in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and British Columbia.