Cupe members on strike outside Vancouver Art GalleryGallery workers walk off the job in response to employer efforts to force a vote on rejected last offer

After rejecting the employer’s final offer Friday, workers at the Vancouver Art Gallery are walking off the job. The union served strike notice on Monday, January 28 but continued to bargain through the week in hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement.

“For months, we have been seeking fair treatment from Galley business managers, yet we continue to face concession demands and two-tiered working conditions and scheduling models,” said CUPE 15 President Warren Williams.

Following the union’s rejection of the employer’s last offer, Gallery managers announced their intention to make use of the BC Labour Code’s “last offer vote” provision, and force a vote among workers on the employer’s rejected proposal. That vote is not expected until next Tuesday, February 12.

“The employer has chosen to force a vote on its rejected proposal rather than spending time at the bargaining table working out a fair and negotiated settlement,” said CUPE 15 President Warren Williams. “This tactic represents the sort of the disrespectful treatment our members have received throughout these negotiations.”

After more than eight months at the bargaining table, the two sides remain at odds over two central issues.

Art Gallery managers continue to pursue a major concession regarding a long-standing scheduling model that would create two-tiered working conditions and refuse to move from their position. Union representatives have repeatedly rejected the employer’s wage proposals, which they say fails to keep pace with inflation, and falls far short of addressing the cost of living challenges experienced by Art Gallery workers.

“Pushing forward a last offer vote in an attempt to force a harmful concession on Gallery workers has broken what little trust remains between the parties,” said Williams. “We call on Gallery managers to start rebuilding that trust by returning to the table with us in an honest effort to reach a fair, respectful and negotiated settlement.”

CUPE 15 represents more than 7,000 municipal, community social service, education and not-for-profit workers in Vancouver, and is B.C.’s largest CUPE local.