Sask. institute faculty members petition to switch unions

If labour board allows vote, new union majority support
||Last Updated: 06/01/2012

More than 30 faculty members from the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) marched to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB) in Regina on May 30 to hand over 696 signed cards of support to form a separate union.

The group is unhappy with the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) — which currently represents faculty at the school — because they say the SGEU has taken too long to settle a new collective agreement with SIAST and has increased membership fees.

The group calls themselves the SIAST Faculty Association (SFA).

“We’re creating a better future for the next generation of workers, for the next generation of SIAST students,” SFA secretary and treasurer Warren White said at the protest.

The SGEU maintains it’s the best representation for SIAST members.

“Bargaining has been extremely difficult for all unions in the province,” said Garry Whitley, acting chair of the SIAST negotiating committee. “With the government imposing further changes to labour legislation, now, more than ever, is the time we need to stick together.”

The SFA is required to garner support from 45 per cent of the academic bargaining unit in order to apply to form the new union. Currently the SGEU has just over 1,200 faculty members at SIAST, so the number of signed cards indicates the group has closer to 60 per cent support.

If the LRB declares the cards valid, a vote by the current membership will be held to decide whether the SGEU or the SFA will represent faculty in the future. The SFA needs at least 50 per cent plus one support at this vote to take control.

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