Nova Scotia Community College faculty and professional support staff have voted to leave the Nova Scotia Teachers Union to form their own union.
Faculty voted 64 per cent in favour of leaving the NSTU for its own union, the Nova Scotia Community College Academic Union, while 56 per cent of professional support members who voted supported the change. They had been represented by the NSTU for 22 years “I’m really excited,” said Barbara Gillis, who will be the first president of the new union. “It’s been a very long couple of months.”
Of 771 faculty at 13 campuses across the province, 570 voted over three days earlier this month, while 131 of the 168 support workerscast ballots.
Gillis said she sees the vote as a strong mandate.
“We would have been happy to get 100 per cent, but we’re happy that the majority of members have given us a mandate to move forward and build a union.”
She said some people were worried that benefits would change, “but we’ve managed to make sure that won’t happen. That will put a lot of minds at ease.”
The NSCCAU will be the second-largest post-secondary union in the province.
She said the first steps will be setting up committees and gathering suggestions from the membership. A five-member steering committee is already in place to oversee the formation of the new union, which was officially formed on May 4.
The faculty and support staff voted on May 29 to accept a new collective agreement negotiatedthrough the NSTU. That deal will remain in place for the new union, and it expires in August 2020.
“It will give us time to build the union the way the membership wants, without having to worry about negotiations right away,” Gillis said. But with the current deal expiring in two years, there won’t be much time before contract work begins, she said.
Liette Doucet said the NSTU is disappointed that community college faculty and professional support staff have chosen to leave the union.
“We want to thank them for their role within our organization over the past two decades,” said Doucet, who is president of NSTU.
“We wish them a smooth transition over the coming weeks and months, and hope we can continue to work with them on joint issues affecting both the public school and post secondary education systems.”