Our Health Matters Too: Employees Demand Paid Sick Days from Canada’s Largest Fitness Chain

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Personal Trainers at GoodLife Fitness took to the streets on Sunday, September 24 at 11:00 am with their supporters and clients in a “Fun Run for Paid Sick Days” as part of their Respect Fitness Workers campaign.

Last year, nearly 650 trainers in TorontoAjax and Peterborough formed the first fitness professionals’ union in North America. They have negotiated with GoodLife for nearly a year, but the health club company has made no significant movement on the key issue of paid sick days.

“Forcing trainers to choose whether to pay their rent or work while they are sick or injured puts both trainers and our clients at risk,” says veteran trainer Eris Collins, a member of the Union’s bargaining team. “All workers need paid sick days.”

GoodLife presents itself as a “caring” company that prioritizes health and wellness. Jane Riddell, GoodLife’s Chief Operating Officer, has stated that, “People who are healthy and fit are more productive at work. They’re generally happier and they contribute more to society. We are in a unique position because we are a fitness company. So we believe in living fit, healthy lives, and we encourage all our associates to do exactly that.”

Despite this claim, the reality is that GoodLife does not extend WSIB coverage to its workers in Ontario, and with no paid sick days its trainers face potentially devastating financial costs if they miss work to recover from illness or injury, including workplace injuries.

“By not providing paid sick days, we believe GoodLife is prioritizing its own profits over the physical health and safety of its clients and its staff,” says Union Representative Adrie Naylor. “If companies as rich as GoodLife won’t address this issue, then we call on the Provincial government to force them to by legislating seven paid sick days for Ontario’sworkers.” This call echoes the demands of the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Make It Fair campaign and the Fight for $15and Fairness campaign, which Workers United is supporting.

The example of GoodLife personal trainer DeJanai Love, who suffered a concussion due to a workplace injury and was forced to take unpaid sick days before returning to work while still recovering, was raised at Queen’s Park in May by NDP Labour Critic and MPP Cindy Forster, who encouraged the Provincial government to legislate paid emergency leave days.

Trainers pounded the pavement through the streets of downtown Toronto, beginning outside Union Station, stopping at five downtown GoodLife locations on their way to Dundas Square to talk to members and the public about the negative impact of having no protection against the financial cost of being sick or injured.