The union representing UNBC support workers is optimistic a new deal with the province will soon be in place.
Encouraged by the fact clerical workers from UBC reached a tentative contract agreement on Wednesday which gav e them two per cent wage increases in 2012 and 2013, CUPE Local 3799 president Caroline Sewell remained hopeful negotiations with the Public Sector Employers' Council (PSEC) will produce a similar agreement.
"With [UBC's CUPE Local] 2950 coming to a tentative agreement it looks pretty good," Sewell said on Friday.
"We are looking to finish this round of bargaining -- after 2 1/2 years without a contract we want to get it done and get back to business. Management basically feels the same way, that this has been going on for too long.
"We've been talking with management quite a bit and they are in contact with PSEC trying to get word back on what they can offer us and what they can't. They hold the reins when it comes to money and that's where some of the delay comes in."
UNBC's campus security staff, food service workers, tradespeople, parking attendants and student housing employees have been working without a contract since June 2010. The 345 union workers walked off their jobs in a half-day show of solidarity Oct. 4, joining CUPE members at UBC, UBC-Okanagan, UVic, Thompson Rivers University, and Royal Roads University, who staged similar job actions last week.
Rob Van Adrichem, UNBC's vice-president of external relations, said negotiations between the union and management are set to resume next week. He also figures an end to the dispute is near.
"I think everybody here is very anxious for a settlement, so I think things are close," Van Adrichem said. "The best thing is we'll be coming together as soon as possible next week. PSEC needs to approve our proposal and once we have more clarity we'll schedule talks.
"I'm not at the table but I do know there is some interest in resolving it as quickly as possible."
On Thursday, the union imposed an overtime ban on most UNBC members. Sewell said the ban won't apply to UNBC Northern Timberwolves soccer and basketball coaches, who are involved with their teams this weekend in CIS varsity games.
"They're working alternate hours all over the place and it's a bit hard to institute an overtime ban on them," said Sewell. "The basketball coaches are part of a letter of understanding in our old collective agreement but we've incorporated the soccer coaches as well in the same type of letter of understanding. Because they're new to the [CIS] sports arena in Canada we really don't want to impact that."
Sewell said overtime is quite common in some UNBC departments, especially information technology, where projects often have to be completed in a short timeframe. The ban does not apply to UNBC student recruiters, who have scheduled appearances at area high schools. The union doesn't want to adversely affect the university's ability to attract new students, knowing UNBC is currently under capacity.