Profile: Danilo De Leon is a Filipino immigrant who arrived in Alberta in 2009 as a temporary foreign worker (TFW). Employed as a cleaner by Bee Clean, he and other workers claimed that the employer neither paid them overtime nor paid for all hours worked. They were working at the University of Alberta, which had contracted out cleaning of its buildings to Bee Clean.
Several workers approached Merryn Edwards, initially with SEIU and later AUPE, about unionizing. Bee Clean warned workers that unionization might lead to the university awarding its contract to another employer. But the workers voted heavily to unionize.
When his TFW contract expired, De Leon, with a family to support in The Philippines, remained in Alberta as an undocumented worker. He took whatever jobs were available, sometimes at half or less of minimum wage. As an undocumented worker, he lacked access to health care. He works with Migrante to fight for social justice for both TFWs and undocumented workers, including a path to citizenship that would spare desperate former TFWs from becoming undocumented workers.
Keywords: Alberta Union of Public Employees; Bee Clean; Cleaners; Contracting out; Filipino workers; Merryn Edwards; Migrante; Occupational health and safety; Overtime pay; Service Employees International Union; Temporary foreign workers; Undocumented workers; University of Alberta.
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