This zine was created as an experiment in labour education and mapping power relations.
The inspiration came from a picket line, which I walked many times with cleaners who had been locked-out by their employer.
The workers cleaned the Icon Condos in downtown Toronto, but their employer was not the condo corporation. I learned about their extremely convoluted employment relationship, deliberately designed to maximize their precarity.
Unlike a traditional employer-employee set-up, the cleaners have to work for whichever company wins the cleaning contract for the building (often the lowest bidder). The contract is awarded by the elected condo board upon the advice of a property management firm.
So who is the decision-maker here? And how can we apply pressure on them to do the right thing?
This question became even more complicated when I realized just how many residents of the Icon Condos were short-term guests with AirBnb-like services. Many of these travellers with suitcases stopped to speak with us, but as non-owners, they didn’t have voting rights or any influence with the condo board.
This zine is an initial effort to map (some of) these power relations and make them more understandable for those, like the cleaners and their union, who wish to challenge them.
Thanks first and foremost to the cleaners for fighting back and to the Justice for Janitors campaign.
Artist Colin Matthes graciously extended permission for me to use his crane illustrations. The quote from Joven and parts of Emma’s story are from Zach Ruiter’s reporting on the lockout in the NOW Magazine.Building-Power