Graduate academic assistants (GAAs) at UBC will unionize after a majority voted in favour of unionizing during a representation vote held between July 10 and 12.
On July 25, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) BC announced graduate academic assistants at UBC will join CUPE 2278.
Per the BC Labour Relations Code, a representation vote takes place if at least 45 per cent but less than 55 per cent of eligible employees sign a union card. If 55 per cent of eligible employees sign a union card, no vote is required.
CUPE 2278 currently represents around 3,000 workers at the university: teaching assistants (TAs), tutors, markers, english language instructors and exam invigilators at the Centre for Accessibility.
CUPE 2278 is also involved in a BC labour board dispute with UBC over the inclusion of around 3,200 graduate research assistants in the union. No announcement has been made on this dispute.
According to a UBC Okanagan policy, GAAs do not do work related to their degree. UBC is disputing the research assistants' unionization on the grounds that their work is part of their studies.
In a statement shared with The Ubyssey, CUPE 2278 President Emily Cadger said she was excited to see GAAs join the union.
"They are an integral part of the education and research environment at UBC and it is great that they will now be offered [the] protections and benefits that their fellow graduate student workers currently receive as part of our local. We look forward to working with UBC as we move forward with integrating these new members into CUPE 2278."
In a statement shared with The Ubyssey, Kurt Heinrich, the senior director of UBC media relations, said “the University respects the rights of employees to unionize.”
Heinrich noted the university has had past success integrating employees into existing collective agreements.
Resident advisors and Centre for Accessibility shuttle drivers previously joined the CUPE Local 116 agreement while exam invigilators at the Centre for Accessibility joined the CUPE Local 2278 agreement.
- Centre for Accessibility student exam invigilators unionize
- Accessibility Shuttle workers unionize, join CUPE Local 116 after wage concerns
- Residence advisors unionize after a year of ‘not feeling safe’ doing their jobs
“We look forward to working with CUPE Local 2278 to integrate the recently unionized GAA’s into the Collective Agreement,” said Henrich.
This piece was updated at 10:31 a.m. on July 28 to add comment from CUPE.