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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2001

Certification Drive at UPEI

On Feb. 23 the University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association submitted its application for certification to the provincial Labour Relations Board. Don Gillis, president of the faculty association, said a 30-member organizing team signed up an overwhelming majority of the 300 full- and part-time faculty members during a three-month organizing campaign.

"There was a great mood throughout the campaign," Gillis said. "Everyone on the team worked extremely hard. Once we got started, you could just see it was going to be successful."

Gillis said in many departments every faculty member signed a card.

"The response was incredible," Gillis said. "It's clear the time was right to join our colleagues in unionized faculty associations across Canada."

Eighty per cent of the faculties of Canada's university are currently unionized, and the only other university in Atlantic Canada where the faculty is not unionized is St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.

According to Gillis, a key moment in the campaign was a meeting in early February where CAUT executive director Jim Turk, Mount Allison Faculty Association president Bob Rosebrugh, Greg Allain, president of the Association des bibliothécaires et des professeurs et professeures de l'Université de Moncton and Vic Catano from Saint Mary's University Faculty Union answered members' questions for more than three hours.

"I was extremely impressed with the professional manner in which the association and its leadership conducted the meeting," said Catano, who is also vice-president of CAUT. "At the meeting everyone, both those who were openly pro- and anti-certification, felt free to express their views and to ask questions about the process."

"After that meeting, many people signed up right away," Gillis said. "The old arguments against unionizing came up, but were easily addressed at the meeting, often by our own members."

The proposed bargaining unit includes anyone who teaches at least one course at the university, including clinical instructors in the school of nursing and faculty of the Atlantic Veterinary College.

The university has until March 16 to file its response. Under PEI labour law, a vote will be held only if the labour relations officer deems it necessary.

"Clearly, we feel our majority is significant enough to warrant automatic certification," Gillis said.

The next step for the association is to determine priorities for bargaining. An economic benefits committee will be struck, as well as working groups to discuss various items the members will want to address in first contract negotiations.