Vancouver Art Gallery strike heading to mediation

Striking art gallery workers rally outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday. Gord Ditchburn / Twitter

A labour dispute at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is heading to mediation.

In a media release, CUPE Local 15, which represents art gallery workers, said the union had applied to the Labour Relations Board for a mediator to help resolve the dispute.

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The parties are scheduled to meet Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

Workers rallied outside the gallery Saturday afternoon.

“After more than eight months of bargaining, our members are frustrated that gallery managers continue to insist on a major concession and refuse to move from their position,” said CUPE 15 president Warren Williams in a statement.

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“We are hopeful that a mediator can help rebuild the relationship between the parties in order to bring about a fair, respectful and negotiated settlement.”

VAG workers rejected the employer’s final offer on Jan. 31, and served strike notice, but did not walk off the job until last Tuesday.

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According to the union, the two sides have been bargaining for eight months, but have been stuck on a scheduling model that creates two-tiered working conditions as well as demanding wage increases pegged to inflation.

The union is also accusing gallery management of using the B.C. Labour Code’s “last offer vote” provision to force a vote among workers on the rejected proposal.

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A spokesperson for the VAG declined to comment on the state of negotiations or the unions demands citing “respect for the process.”

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However they said there have “been no roll-back of benefits for its current team members and, in fact in many cases, benefits have been enhanced.”

“We have been engaged in a collaborative and respectful bargaining process with CUPE15 as both sides work towards a new Collective Agreement. That process as prescribed is fair and reasonable for both its employees and the organization as a whole moving forward.”

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