Cowichan News Leader

Kitchen and food-services staff form first-ever union at Brentwod College School

Crooks Hall, the Brentwood College School kithen facility, is the site of teh school’s first union. -
Crooks Hall, the Brentwood College School kithen facility, is the site of teh school’s first union.
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The first union to form during Brentwood College School's 90-year history, narrowly certified two weeks ago.

On Jan. 17, 30 kitchen and food-services workers voted 53.5% in favour of joining the B.C. Government Employees Union.

Thirty-eight workers were entitled to vote.

Those staffers, said BCGEU's Chris Bradshaw, have formed a bargaining committee, and elected stewards who will now negotiate their first collective agreement with the private college's board.

"The bargaining committee will have meetings to determine priorities for their first agreement."

Bradshaw hoped for smooth talks about wages, benefits, vacation time, harassment and other issues concerning BCGEU's Component 7 workers in Brentwood's new, ultra-modern dining building.

"Depending on willingness of the employer to recognize employee issues, the talks can go quickly or drag out."

Headmaster Bud Patel seemed optimistic about bargaining with the union local, now recognized by B.C.'s Labour Relations Board.

"We'll work with the BCGEU for a collective agreement. We want to make this the best place to work and learn," he said of his 460-student campus, sporting 200-some staff.

Patel was unaware how the college's first union deal will impact Brentwood's budgets.

"It'll take a few months to go through the (negotiation) process."

He was also unsure of specific reasons the union formed at the seaside Mill Bay college.

"That could come up as we negotiate the collective agreement," noted Patel.

Bradshaw said the BCGEU's organizing representative confirmed a worker at Brentwood College contacted the union, which sparked an organizing drive Nov. 5.

After the positive Jan. 17 vote, the local was certified on Jan. 18, he said.

"We want to ensure that although the result of the LRB-monitored ratification vote was close, the BCGEU was certified as the bargaining agent for all Brentwood College kitchen-service employees — approximately 38 in all," Bradshaw said.

"The union's goal is to reach out to all new members, and ensure their needs and priorities are represented during the upcoming collective-bargaining process.

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