The Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) signed 65 per cent of contract academic staff members and filed an application for certification with the Ontario Labour Relations Board in late November.
On Nov. 30, a week after the filing, the Board held a representation vote for Nipissing contract academic staff. The university's contract academic staff members were asked to vote on whether they want the Nipissing University Faculty Association to be their exclusive bargaining agent.
"Almost everyone who signed a NUFA card voted," said Bill Plumstead, a part-time instructor in English and a member of the organizing committee.
"Given the time of year, that several classes were over, and the fact that some members live considerable distances from the campus, this turnout is very gratifying and shows the tremendous amount of support among the part-timers for forming a NUFA bargaining unit," he said.
"This vote sends a clear, official message to the university that we mean business and that we are already an organized group."
Although the ballots will not be counted until a dispute with the school's administration over the composition of the bargaining unit is resolved, faculty association organizers are confident a strong majority have voted in favour of unionization.
"The organizing committee worked extremely hard, first in signing up two-thirds of the potential membership, then in making sure that everyone knew where they could cast their ballot," said faculty association president Roman Brozowski.
"The excellent showing on Nov. 30 is a real testament to their hard work, and their energy and dedication will be a real asset to NUFA."
On Dec. 20 faculty association and university representatives will meet with a labour board officer to discuss the dispute over the definition of the bargaining unit. Once an agreement is reached, the ballot boxes will be opened and the ballots counted.
If successful, Nipissing University Faculty Association will be granted a certificate for a new bargaining unit of part-time instructors and laboratory instructors.