British Columbia

UNBC faculty back at work after agreeing to end job action

Both the faculty association and the university have agreed to binding final-offer-selection arbitration on the issue of salaries, the association announced Tuesday on social media. 

Faculty, university agree to binding final-offer-selection arbitration; new contract retroactive to July 2019

Faculty at the University of Northern British Columbia stand on the picket line along University Way in Prince George, B.C., in November. Staff went on strike after bargaining over wages failed. (Catherine Hansen/CBC)

Job action at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) is officially over.

Both the faculty association and the university have agreed to binding final-offer-selection arbitration on the issue of salaries, the association announced Tuesday on social media. 

"The final offer of arbitration is that both sides present their salary proposal and my understanding is the arbitrator selects one or the other of them," said Paul Siakuluk, the vice-president of the faculty association.

The arbitration will take place in the new year. Once in place, the new contract will be retroactive to July 2019 and will last for three years.

"It would be best if we had a negotiated agreement, but for me personally and for many of my colleagues it'll be nice knowing that going into the holiday season and at the beginning of the new year, we don't have to worry about pickets going back up," said Siakuluk.

Faculty association president Stephen Rader said although the strike is over, the union still plans to move forward with a complaint to the province's labour relations board that university administration was negotiating in bad faith.

"We feel that as a matter of principle we need to know whether the employer was engaging in unfair labour practices," Rader said in an emailed statement.

UNBC president Daniel Weeks says he recognizes the strike has been difficult for everyone involved.

"I hope that folks will find some comfort that in the fact that we are going to be moving forward and that we will get to an agreement at some point here," Weeks added.

"It's still going to take some time to work this through the process."

 

Roughly 3,500 students were shut out of class for three weeks in November as a result of picket lines on university campuses across northern B.C.

Staff returned to class at the end of November but only to do work that would allow students to complete the fall semester.

With files from Andrew Kurjata

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