The process

Forming a union in British Columbia involves the following steps.


1. Set-up a union organizing committee

  • The CUPE 2278 Organizing Committee is leading a grassroots campaign to all student workers at the University of British Columbia.
  • The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) will support and provide resources for the campaign.

2. Start card-signing campaign

  • The card signing campaign is part of the legal steps to bring non-unionized student workers into 2278. Signing online cards is the way we’ll signal to the BC Labour Relations Board that these workers want to be represented by and a part of this union.

3. Sign-up over 55% of the workers

  • The labour board requires that at least 55% of workers in the workplace sign union cards showing their support for the union.
  • All cards are confidential and the university never finds out who signed a card. That includes your professor or manager.

4. File application with the labour board

  • Once we are well above the 55% mark, CUPE will file at the BC Labour Board for certification of the union.
  • The Labour Board will examine the cards to make sure that there are over 55% represented, in which case we’ll have instant certification.

5. Bargain for first collective agreement

  • CUPE will support us in starting negotiations with the university to bring formerly non-unionized student workers under 2278’s collective agreement.
  • Local members have full autonomy over what we want to prioritize in future bargaining.

6. Enforce the collective agreement

  • The union supports the enforcement of the collective agreement using the mechanisms (such as grievance filing) outlined in the contract. This will ensure fairness and accountability in the university following the agreed terms of the collective agreement.
  • Union representatives will be available in each department/school to help workers resolve problems and understand their rights and responsibilities under the new contract as well as general labour laws, the Labour Relations Act (specific to unionized workplaces), and human rights legislation.
  • All workers can get involved in the union local to help represent their colleagues and help improve working conditions for everyone.