Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Faculties at SFU, UNBC step up union organizing

More B.C. universities' faculty members moved to join trade unions this week, with events at both Simon Fraser and the University of Northern British Columbia. The University of Victoria's faculty association unionized earlier this year.

At SFU, the faculty association applied to the province's Labour Relations Board on April 23 to certify as a union. The move to unionize was supported by over 60 per cent of eligible faculty. Members signed official LRB cards, signifying their desire for a union.

Jennifer Scott of the SFU Faculty Association said that the move to join a union does not reflect a bad relationship between her members and SFU administrators.

"No one here wants an acrimonious relationship," she said. "We are all committed to collegiality."

Scott said that the unionization drive was not primarily about wages, on which the faculty association has already been able to negotiate under its current status. The preference for a full, formal union bargaining group, reflected, she said, an increased interest among her members in university governance issues.

"This will be a new and different legal framework that will allow us to engage in equal bargaining on non-wage governance issues that affect the quality of education for students," Scott said.

At UNBC, where faculty organizers made a similar preliminary application in February, ballots were counted on April 29 by the Labour Relations Board, with 212 of 237 of the voters supporting the unionization process. (The total number of eligible voters at UNBC was 355.) The faculty association will be recognized as a legal union, and will begin negotiating a new contract for its members soon, association vice president Erik Jensen said.

"UNBC's faculty members, senior laboratory instructors, part-time instructors, and librarians play a critical role in education delivery in the North. Both the faculty association and administration are committed to strengthening relationships and maintaining a productive and respectful working environment," said a joint statement issued today by UNBC vice president academic and provost John Young and Jacqueline Holler, president of UNBC's faculty association.

The Tyee contacted SFU's administration to comment on the latest development in the drive to unionize faculty there, but no one from the university was made available before press time.

Faculty unionization at SFU, UNBC, and UVic represent a significant trend at the province's universities, bringing the B.C. situation into closer alignment with the rest of the country.

Currently more than 80 per cent of university faculty in Canada are unionized, although Alberta still has laws on the books banning faculty unions, similar to the ban that was in place in B.C. from 1977 until 1992.

Tom Sandborn covers labour and health policy news for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos65@telus.net.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:

Do:

  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus