OVER 500 workers at Atira Women’s Resource Society (AWRS) on Monday officially joined the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU). This was the result of workers organizing and making connections across over 35 worksites and a significant majority of workers signing cards to join the union.
“The BCGEU is honoured to welcome these women and gender diverse workers to our union,” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “I’m so impressed by the work they have done to stand up for better conditions at work and for the women that rely on Atira housing.”
As BCGEU members, these workers will now be able to able to push collectively as a union to address safety concerns, short staffing and other living and working conditions in Atira housing. They join thousands of other unionized supportive housing workers in a united front as the housing, opioid, drug toxicity and mental health crises put continued pressure on the sector, said the BCGEU.
“As frontline workers we know how to make Atira better for workers and for residents,” said Kadidja Youssouf, an AWRS worker. “By unionizing, we now have the collective power to speak out, and for our ideas to be heard.”
Because Atira Women’s Resource Society receives a majority of their funding from government they will be eligible to join one of the B.C. government’s sectoral agreements. It is the BCGEU’s position that these workers should join their supportive housing counterparts under the Health Employers Association of British Columbia (HEABC).
As the lead union in the sector, the BCGEU now includes more than 4,000 supportive housing workers along with frontline workers at Raincity Housing and Support Society and Lookout Housing and Health Society.
The BCGEU said that with over 85,000 members in nearly every economic sector in the province, each year workers build power by organizing with it to create better working conditions, improve wages and benefits, and strengthen the voice of working people.
Workers interested in joining the BCGEU can learn more at https://www.bcgeu.ca/join