B.C. University Professors and Librarians Vote to Certify as a Trade Union

B.C. University Professors and Librarians Vote to Certify as a Trade Union

Last month, on January 24, professors and librarians at the University of Victoria voted in favour of forming a union to protect themselves against what B.C. Confederation of University Faculty Associations director Robert Clift described as “a new breed of university manager who has traded leadership for ‘boss-ship’ and who is often more concerned with the bottom line than the quality of the student experience and scholarly output.”

The UVic faculty were not primarily motivated by a desire for higher salaries.  Jason Price, a professor at UVic who led the move to transform the faculty association into a trade union, said, “Even more important than wage issues was the fact that unionization would allow us to address the non-monetary issues the university had refused to negotiate.  These issues bear directly on the quality of education the university can offer students, and represent the real heart and soul of the university.”

Some UVic faculty argued against unionization:  a web site was set up to list some possible negative consequences of unionization including a decrease in collegiality, an increase in bureaucracy, and the danger of possible unwanted strike actions.

Two other British Columbia universities, Simon Fraser and UNBC, are also preparing to vote this spring on whether to transform their faculty associations into trade unions.  Across Canada, some 80 per cent of university faculty have now chosen to reject faculty associations in favour of certifying as unions.  In Alberta, provincial statute makes it impossible for faculty to unionize.

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