Full-time faculty at Langley’s Trinity Western University have unionized, and are expected to start bargaining for their first contract as early as this fall.
The B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) recently revealed the results of an Oct. 2021 certification vote to organize with the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), after a lengthy delay due to a challenge by the university.
The year-and-a-half wait for the Labour Board ruling on the challenge was in large part due to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nathan Mathews, a CLAC representative who worked on the certification.
He said it was the longest wait he could recall in 17 years. It was also hard on the faculty.
“It was pretty difficult,” said Kevin Schut, a TWU faculty member and one of the leaders of the unionization drive. “I think more than anything, not knowing what was going to happen.”
Once the results were unsealed after the BCLRB unsealed the vote, it showed that 64 per cent of faculty who cast a ballot had voted to unionize.
“TWU respects the democratic process and the decision of the LRB, and we commit to working together with all faculty to advance a healthy and productive working relationship,” the university said in a statement. “It is important to note that there are no immediate changes for employment contracts with full-time faculty.”
The unionization covers full-time and sessional faculty, which Mathews said are those instructors who have a long-term association with the university.
Mathews said he anticipated it would not be too difficult to work out a first contract with the university.
“They’re committed to a good process,” he said.
However, that process won’t start right away.
“We have to talk as a faculty first,” said Schut.
They’re a pretty diverse group, and they’ll need to work out what their priorities are before they can go into contract talks, Schut noted.
The newly unionized faculty will spend the next few months organizing among themselves and educating their members on their new union status. There are roughly between 170 and 180 unionized faculty, now.
Schut said the faculty are invested in the school’s future.
“We look forward to building the university,” he said.
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