Support staff at the College of New Caledonia have voted 84 per cent in favour of strike action.
The Wednesday poll of unionized staff from CUPE Local 4951 included CNCs Prince George campus and its regional campuses in Mackenzie, Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Quesnel and Burns Lake.
Voting ended at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The vote came six days after the unions proposed contract settlement offer was rejected by the province. The union is required to serve 72 hours strike notice before any legal job action can proceed.
The support staff includes CNC custodians, cafeteria staff, day care workers, administrative assistants, project planners, admissions and continuing education staff, and employees of the bookstores and print rooms, who have been without a contract since June 2010.
Weve had a good turnout, [by 5 p.m.] we had about 155 people who have already voted [at the Prince George campus], said CUPE Local 4951 president Lily Bachand. I would be surprised if I didnt get a strike mandate.
The union is seeking two per cent wage increases across the board in each of the next two years, with no wage increases for the first two years of a proposed four-year contract, covering 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Last week, talks broke off when the union was told by the Post-Secondary Employers Association of B.C. that the Liberal government will not be providing any new money to settle public sector contracts. Under terms of the governments co-operative gains mandate, public sector employers such as colleges are required to find savings in their operating budgets to pay for wage increases for the support workers.
Support staff from four CUPE locals at three B.C. universities ratified contracts on Tuesday, including UNBC, UVic and UBC. The 345 UNBC support staff members are represented by CUPE Local 3799.
The four-year agreements all include no wage increases for the first two years, with two per cent increases in each of the third and fourth years.