After a long ground campaign, academic staff at the University of Victoria returned to campus last month for a new semester and a new union.
The British Columbia Labour Relations Board certified the University of Victoria Faculty Association as exclusive bargaining agent for approximately 860 professors and librarians after a three-day vote hat ended Jan. 24.
The faculty association applied for certification as a trade union on Jan. 2 after 63 per cent of its membership signed application cards during a two-month recruiting drive late last year.
“We’ve been considering certification for years,” said Jason Price, who led the campaign as vice-president of the faculty association. “Our executive committee voted unanimously to pursue unionization last April, and the LRB vote was the final giant step in our journey.”
He credited the decisive victory in part to statements of support from sister faculty association across the country that “helped our members understand the long, pervasive and successful tradition of academic unionization in Canada,” and to the work of more than 50 selfless volunteers from within the faculty association membership, “whose actions were huge during the union organizing drive.”
The university administration and the union will now begin negotiating a first collective agreement covering terms and conditions of employment, which Price said trail those of colleagues elsewhere. “Our salaries are among the lowest in the country and we will finally be able to negotiate non-monetary issues which the university has long refused to negotiate.”
The two sides have issued a joint statement saying they are “committed to continue our mutual efforts to maintain a positive and supportive working environment for faculty members and librarians within our collegial governance structure.”