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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2008

Organizing Victory at University of New Brunswick

Wendy Bourque and Saba Mattar, shortly after receiving the good news from the labour board in February.
Wendy Bourque and Saba Mattar, shortly after receiving the good news from the labour board in February.
A campaign to unionize part-time faculty and librarians at the University of New Brunswick came to a successful conclusion last month when the provincial labour and employment board issued a certification order recognizing them as a bargaining unit within the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers.

Part-timers are a fast-growing segment of the UNB faculty and account for a third of all undergraduate teaching at the university, says union president Saba Mattar.

When AUNBT launched its organizing campaign in September 2007, the “yes” vote was far from certain. New Brunswick sets an unusually high bar for certification elections, the Public Service Alliance of Canada had already announced unionizing efforts among UNB’s part-timers, and a provincial commission had threatened academic staff at the university’s Saint John campus with the prospect of severance from UNB.

Mattar said AUNBT prevailed on all counts, largely due to its “collaboration with the part-timers organizing committee in building support for the AUNBT-affiliated membership drive.”

He said there were clear signs of differences between the two campaigns, when both AUNBT and the Alliance filed for certification in November. AUNBT’s application proposed 319 part-time members at UNB, while PSAC’s application had less than half that number. Alliance organizers subsequently withdrew their intervenor application.

Mattar called the outcome good news for the academic community.

“Organizationally, the successful drive ensures we’re better coordinated to deal with crises such as the one that engulfed the Saint John campus last fall,” he said.

Part-time UNB teacher and union activist Wendy Bourque said this represents a big step forward in securing fairer terms and conditions of employment for part-time academics.

“Despite our central role, UNB’s part-timers have been invisible because we lacked a unified voice. Membership in AUNBT gives us an opportunity to win the respect and practical improvements we deserve,” she said.

CAUT-affiliated faculty associations now represent contract academic staff at 25 Canadian universities.