Dave Shaw, of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said UNB is anti-union. ((CBC))

A push to form a new union at the University of New Brunswick is running into opposition from the administration which says a campaign to sign up union members on campus is illegal.

About 500 professional and technical support workers on the two UNB campuses in Fredericton and Saint John are eligible to join the Public Service Alliance of Canada, but time is running out to sign union cards.

Some university employees didn't want to be seen at a union organizing meeting Wednesday for fear of reprisals by the administration.

The ones who did come on their lunch hour had questions for Dave Shaw, an organizer for the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"I've organized a number of workers in the academic sector in Atlantic Canada, and what we seem to have happen here is an employer, despite the fact that they're an institute of higher learning, has taken a real kind of anti-union, WalMart-type of approach whereby they're doing everything they can to intimidate the workers," Shaw said.

Kris McGrath is one of those workers.


UNB worker Kris McGrath is astonished at the university's tactics. ((CBC))

"Some events were greeted with uniformed security and [we]

were told we weren't allowed to have them," he said.

McGrath said the university cancelled the room booking and thwarted the meeting.

"I do believe we were within our rights trying to arrange a simple group meeting, basically a pizza party. I'm really surprised at such a strong-handed tactic was used," he said.

"It absolutely floored me — I've never seen the like of it."

Union organizer Michelle LeBlanc said the workers called in the union because they were concerned about unequal treatment.

"For instance, a few years ago, the university implemented a wage freeze and it's my understanding that it was just this group that had to endure the wage freeze and that the unionized groups didn't have to," LeBlanc said.

Support worker Terri MacLean has signed her union card.

"My conditions are good, but there are places where they aren't so good. So, I want the union because it would mean a good working place for everyone," she said.

The organizing drive has support from the faculty union, the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers.

University administration has not issued a statement regarding the union drive, and did not respond to requests for an interview.