November 25, 2019  

 

Why is the UNBC Faculty Association (FA) still on strike?

We need a fair sector-norm deal that corrects structural salary problems while not removing important academic rights. This will ensure future harmonious labour relations and long-term stability at UNBC.

The FA greatly appreciates the support of students and the other UNBC unions: CUPE3799, UniteHere40, and CUPE2278. We realize striking creates difficult impacts and hardships.  As some UNBC community members are more affected than others, the FA is working to provide financial assistance to our supporting unions and donations to the student food bank.

A fair deal is important for many reasons. To ensure UNBC’s long-term sustainability we must attract and retain talented faculty members.  This is important for ongoing quality of education and research at UNBC, as well as for ensuring the best student experiences and returns on donor investment.

Bringing talented faculty members and instructors to Prince George requires sector-norm employment conditions and salary structures - like those offered at other small research intensive universities in Canada. This is especially critical as UNBC’s founding faculty members retire. Such issues have been at the heart of negotiations for more than a decade - even before the FA became a union.  After our current collective agreement expired on July 1, after 8 months at the table and 20 days of mediation, we went on strike on November 7, 2019.

 

Our bargaining team is working day and night to arrive at an agreement.  Currently, the employer is offering only “all or nothing” package deals that contain provisions that we cannot accept.  Key remaining sticking points are the employer’s proposed:

Are FA members aware of the impacts of a strike?

Yes, no one takes the decision to strike lightly.  FA executive and members thought carefully before calling for job action.  Our FA negotiating team have been bargaining diligently to reach an agreement since early March.  We continue to think carefully about the strike and its impacts with every day that passes. We absolutely empathise with students and the other supporting Union members who are respecting our picket lines.  We acknowledge their hardships, difficulties and disruptions, but this strike was necessary given the lack of progress at the bargaining table.  Our bargaining team is working hard to end the strike: They are consistently present and available for negotiating.  They are creative and resourceful having done their homework so they can craft effective and timely proposals and responses.  

While you may see us smile, laugh, and appear to have fun while on the picket lines, these are important solidarity building activities and coping mechanisms.  We strive to lighten our moods and those of others as we know how difficult it is every day we are on strike.  FA members are concerned about the health, wellbeing, and success of students and the entire UNBC community.  We have great appreciation for support from students and community members who visit the picket line, write letters, and post on social media.  We are most grateful to members of CUPE3799, CUPE2278, and UniteHere!40 who are standing in solidarity beside us. We share money and resources with these groups and make donations to the NUGSS food bank to support students during this stressful time.  

What happens when the strike ends?

As part of the negotiations, the FA and employer will agree on how to get everyone back to work and classes. Once there is a tentative agreement, pickets will come down, and UNBC operations will resume as announced.  Later the FA will vote to ratify the tentative agreement.

Decisions on how the semester will be completed are made by the UNBC Senate. UNBC will announce these decisions as soon as they are available.

As for students losing their semester, historically this is very unlikely.  Only one strike at a Canadian university has resulted in students losing a semester. It was a 4 month strike at Laval in 1976.  Though the details differ, for 13 Canadian university faculty strikes lasting between 17 and 54 days since 1997, none  resulted in a lost semester.  Semesters were saved in various creative ways.

What can you do?  

Write your own letter or use the form letter at https://unbcfa.ca/bargaining-updates-2019/ to send a strong message to those in charge:

Ms. Lee Ongman, Chair, UNBC Board of Governors: boardchair@unbc.ca 

Dr. Daniel Weeks, UNBC President: Daniel.Weeks@unbc.ca 

Want more information?

For information on the UNBCFA:

For information on UNBC and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI):

For information on CUPE3799 (UNBC’s support staff):

For information on CUPE2278 (UBC/UNBC’s TA union):

For information on UniteHere!Local 40 (UNBC’s Cafeteria workers):

For information the higher education sector in Canada, see Canadian Association of University Teachers:

For  job action updates from the employer:

To follow the UNBCFA on social media: