TORONTO, Nov. 06, 2020 -- Tropicana workers unionized with SEIU (Services Employees International Union) Local 2 are heading to the picket line on Monday, November 9th. The workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of striking on October 21st, and a last attempt to come to a fair settlement with management failed on November 4th. The strike would mean a suspension of all of the organization’s services. The workers are also launching tropicanastrikes.ca to inform the public about the issues facing Tropicana staff. Parents are advised to make alternative child care arrangements as Tropicana’s childcare center may be staffed with unqualified and untrained childcare workers.
Tropicana Community Services, a community organization geared towards serving the Caribbean, Black, and African community, is staffed by a team of 50 people. Sylvia Waldron, an administrative worker with Tropicana, has been working with the organization for 30 years. She says: “I helped build Tropicana from the ground-up. I care deeply about this organization.” Waldron would like to avoid disruption to the services that the community depends on, but says that Tropicana management refuses to bargain in good faith: “We unionized back in July 2019, and since then we’ve been trying to come to the table, trying to work out a fair wage that makes sense for the management, the staff, and the organization. But management is just asking us to accept another 3 to 4 years of wage freezes, after we’ve already accepted 15 years! It’s a slap in the face and completely disregards all of the hard work we do as frontline staff for this organization.”
In addition to a fair wage increase, Tropicana workers are demanding more transparent management practices. Workers are especially frustrated with what they view as favouritism regarding wage raises. The workers also feel frozen out of the organization’s operational decisions, with their insight and expertise from working on the frontlines consistently disregarded by management.
Tropicana management continues to push forward an offer that imposes several more years of wage freezes and cutbacks on existing entitlements to paid time off during statutory holidays.
Simone Seelochan is a Resource and Information Specialist with Tropicana. She says, “We pour our hearts and souls into the work we do for Tropicana because we love the community. 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.”
SEIU Local 2 represents workers in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and British Columbia.
Contact: Assya Moustaqim-Barrette