Worker strike at Vancouver Art Gallery ending after agreement reached

Feb 12 2019, 5:23 pm

After more than 200 unionized striking workers at Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) agreed to move ahead to mediation last week, the VAG announced on Tuesday that a new, collective agreement has been reached between the VAG and CUPE 15 – the union representing the workers.

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“The Vancouver Art Gallery has an incredibly talented, dedicated and passionate staff and we are so pleased that an amicable resolution was reached with CUPE 15, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the Gallery,” said VAG Director Kathleen S. Bartels. “We believe this four-year contract will keep the Gallery on a path of collaboration, stability and future growth.”

Earlier this month, the unionized workers went on strike out of what they said was frustration with the fact that “the gallery managers continue to insist on a major concession and refuse to move from their position,” according to CUPE 15 President Warren Williams.

Williams had said that that managers at the gallery have been pushing for a major change to their scheduling model, that if allowed, would subject employees to two-tiered working conditions.

Other issues cited by CUPE 15 included “lacklustre” wage proposals and attempts to slash workers’ sick leave.

The VAG, however, told Daily Hive that there has been no such roll-back of benefits for its current team members – rather, the opposite.

“The Gallery, an independent, not-for-profit organization, very much values its unionized employees and appreciates all of their contributions,” the VAG said in response. “To clarify, there has been no roll-back of benefits for its current team members and, in fact in many cases, benefits have been enhanced.”

On Tuesday, the gallery said that now, both parties have been able to work closely together to come to an agreement that is fair and balanced, and that the new collective agreement will be retroactively applied to July 1, 2017.

“The new four-year agreement we have been able to reach allows us to move forward in a sustainable and responsible manner as a not-for-profit organization.”