VIU support workers launch 3-day job action

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University support workers launch job action with minimal impacts for students.

Vancouver Island University support workers are shutting down the facilities department for three days this week with the goal to get a new collective agreement.

The job action will not impact students in classrooms directly, said Deborah Hopper, president of CUPE Local 1858, which represents the university’s nearly 300 support workers, including facilities, food services and clerical workers.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week, the roughly 18 employees in the facilities department will not be at work. The facilities department handles routine maintenance and repair work, shipping and receiving, and groundskeeping work.

“It will have no impact on student classes and should have very little impact on students period,” she said. “If a shelf needs to be put up or a light bulb changed, that will not get done for those three days. If there was an emergency situation, then the university would bring someone in to take care of it.”

VIU support workers have been without a contract for more than two years. University officials cancelled all classes on Tuesday and Wednesday last week due to CUPE’s all-campus walkout.

Talks between the union and the province are scheduled to take place this weekend, said Hopper.

“If things go well, then we’ll have a new collective agreement and then we’ll take that to our members for ratification,” she said, adding that the union will assess progress made over the weekend before deciding next moves.

“We’re taking it one step at a time,” said Hopper.

VIU spokesman Dan Hurley said the action will definitely have an effect on the university’s operations, but the most important part is that classes will continue and that this particular action will only last a few days.

“These are important employees for our organization, so we’ll certainly be happy to have them back on Monday,” he said. “We remain hopeful an agreement will be reached at some point in the near future.”

Job action updates will be sent directly to all students via e-mail and will also be posted on the university’s website at www.viu.ca/labourupdate and on Twitter at @VIUNews.

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