The University of British Columbia and CUPE 2950, the union representing clerical, library, and theatre workers at the institution, have ratified a new collective agreement following the conclusion of bargaining in early March.

“The respectful tone struck between the parties and the willingness to be creative were key to making this a productive round of bargaining,” said Karen Ranalletta, CUPE 2950 President.

Among the key elements addressed in the new agreement was a provision for up to five days of paid domestic violence leave for members or their dependents. The agreement also addresses historically low wages of several classifications of workers at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

“Our members prioritized and achieved equity wage adjustments for Chan Centre workers, because we know this world-class facility’s global reputation is due in large part to the work of Chan Centre staff, and those staff should be fairly paid for their work,” said Ranalletta.

The parties concluded bargaining only days before British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer announced social and physical distancing rules to combat the spread of COVID-19. As a result, CUPE 2950 needed to find creative new ways to ratify their tentative agreement amid rules preventing both in-person union meetings and a conventional ratification vote.

“CUPE members recognized the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis early on, and our focus in the past weeks has been helping UBC transition its workers and students to online and remote platforms,” said Ranalletta. “Our proactive conversion to an online ratification process made sure we maintained our high standards for democratic participation, while maintaining our focus on ensuring UBC students completed their courses and programs this semester as planned.”

CUPE 2950 represents over 1500 library, clerical and theatre workers at the University of British Columbia, including those working at UBC Point Grey campus, UBC Robson Square, and those who work for the Faculty of Medicine at various hospitals across the province.