The Local 40 organizing committee at GM Place left the bargaining table victorious in the early morning hours of March 20, 2009. GM Place workers won significant wage increases, real job security–including during the 2010 Olympics when GM Place becomes Hockey Place–more money for dental and a path toward future medical improvements. But most of all, they won real respect from the company. The key respect issue was expanding the women’s locker room at GM Place. Now, hundreds of women can change with dignity instead of squeezing like sardines into a cramped room.
The victory took months of organizing, bargaining without a contract, and an action plan: delegations to management, rallies and finally a one-day strike. But according to workers it came down to one important thing: the Committee. Leaders from every department joined the Organizing Committee to lead their co-workers through the fight. Brad McLean, a catering server for 13 years and shop steward, said one of the most powerful moments was a delegation to the general manager. “The first time, there was a only a few of us, ” he said, referring to an early delegation the group organized, “but then when you turn around and you realize there are 200 of your co-workers behind you, it feels good!”
Evelyn Cabangbang, a cashier for 10 years, knows how far GM Place workers have come. “Two years ago, they thought I was crazy for getting involved, but now they see, they respect what I did…It all comes down to unity. Don’t be afraid to stand up and fight. Just do it!”