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Vancouver Art Gallery Workers End Strike as New Agreement Is Reached

VANCOUVER, CANADA—A weeklong strike led by two hundred unionized employees of Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada has come to an end. The labor dispute was resolved after eight months of bargaining over the institution’s wage policies and employee benefits when a new four-year collective agreement was reached on Monday, February 11.

Staffers, who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employee’s Local 15 (CUPE 15), first walked off the job on February 5. Among the strikers’ demands were wage increases that keep pace with inflation and are more on par with wages at comparable galleries and that the gallery scrap its plan to eliminate its “nine-day fortnight” benefit, which allows for more flexible scheduling.

“Our members successfully fought back against a number of concessions, and won several key provisions that will improve the working conditions and compensation of gallery workers today, and for years to come,” CUPE 15 president Warren Williams told the Vancouver Sun.

The gallery called the deal—which was retroactively applied to July 1, 2017, the date the previous agreement expired—“fair and balanced” and said that it will allow the institution to “move forward in a sustainable and responsible manner as a not-for-profit organization.”

“The Vancouver Art Gallery has an incredibly talented, dedicated, and passionate staff and we are so pleased that an amicable resolution was reached with CUPE 15, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the gallery,” director Kathleen S. Bartels said in a statement. “We believe this four-year contract will keep the gallery on a path of collaboration, stability, and future growth.”

While staffers returned to work today, the union said that it won’t be “business as usual” and encouraged employees to sit down with their managers and determine a timeline for completing work over the next few weeks.

statement issued by CUPE 15 reads: “You’ve made us all very proud to represent you at the bargaining table and on the picket line. The new agreement is the foundation upon which we can grow a new positive era of labour relations at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This whole experience has been beyond memorable and there aren’t enough words to express our gratitude for entrusting us with the process. We look forward to working alongside you all with a renewed sense of purpose and harmony.”

February 13, 2019