BRITISH COLUMBIA

Tutors, support staff at B.C. post-secondary institutions take job action

10/29/2012 01:26 EDT | Updated 12/29/2012 05:12 EST
VANCOUVER - Teaching assistants at the University of B.C. and support staff at other post-secondary schools around the province are stepping up job action while employees at some institutions have yet to ratify agreements.

Negotiations involve about 15,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees at various colleges and universities.

About 2,300 UBC teaching assistants, tutors, markers and English language instructors of CUPE Local 2278 planned to picket a building at the Vancouver campus at 3 p.m. on Monday, when their strike notice was to take effect.

They're pushing for demands in a new contract to replace a deal that expired in 2010.

Two other CUPE locals at UBC have reached tentative agreements involving labourers, trades, clerical and administrative workers, said Tracey Mathieson, CUPE BC universities sector co-ordinator.

She said about 12,000 support staff are involved in negotiations at six universities, including the University of B.C., Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.

Along with the two UBC locals, tentative agreements have been reached at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and the University of Northern in Prince George, but the new deals have not yet been ratified.

Ian McLean, co-ordinator of the colleges sector for CUPE's B.C. chapter, said support staff from eight colleges are also currently negotiating agreements with the Post Secondary Employers Association.

They include Vancouver Community College employees who were expected to refuse overtime Monday and walk out Tuesday at two campuses.

The union said it's planning rotating, escalating job action to push for productive negotiations after that.

The 420 members of Local 4627 represent library technicians, clerical and cafeteria workers, along with administrative and technical staff.

The other institutions are North Island College, College of the Rockies, College of New Caledonia, Camosun College, Langara College and Emily Carr University and Vancouver Island University, which were formerly colleges.

McLean said a total of about 3,000 CUPE members are represented at the eight institutions.

Settlement proposals have been made to employers at College of the Rockies, which has six campuses, Vancouver Community College, which has two campuses, and the three-campus Vancouver Island University.

"I think, honestly, morale is down on every single campus," McLean said. "But way more important is (the morale) for the student body. If I'm entering into a four-year program I want to know that I'm going to have no disruption."