ESL teachers vote to unionize

    Newest downtown Vancouver private English-as-a-Second-Language school
    joins ETEA

    VANCOUVER, June 3 /CNW/ - Instructors at Pacific Language Institute (PLI)
have voted overwhelmingly to join the Education and Training Employee's
Association (ETEA), a union that represents post-secondary educators in
British Columbia's private colleges and institutes. The vote to unionize was
supervised by the Labour Relations Board. Over 90 percent of the PLI
instructors voted to join ETEA.
    PLI is a major provider of private post-secondary language services in
Vancouver's thriving private ESL college sector. The Lower Mainland is home to
approximately 120 private ESL schools. PLI has been operating in Vancouver for
over 20 years. PLI was bought out a year ago by Kaplan Aspect, a subsidiary of
the Washington Post. Since then, teachers say working and learning conditions
have declined.
    "We are thrilled about PLI's certification," said ETEA Local 1 president
Bari Blackhart. "The vote to unionize at PLI sends another strong message that
private post-secondary instructors are looking for the representation and
better working conditions that come with unionization," Blackhart added.
    "Quality learning opportunities for our students is a key priority for
these newly organized instructors," says Jeff McKeil, FPSE representative for
ETEA. "Unfortunately, employers have allowed teaching conditions to
deteriorate, a move that has convinced many instructors in these private
colleges to join ETEA and push for better outcomes," McKeil added. "What we're
seeing in this economic climate is what we've always seen when a crisis hits
Vancouver's private colleges: learning conditions suffer. However, this sector
was strong enough to weather the Korean market crash, 9/11, SARS, and a
bruised reputation when schools closed their doors on students. The hard work
of instructors at private colleges made all the difference in overcoming these
problems. Today's vote at PLI is another indication that private
post-secondary instructors want to see better conditions in their
institutions," McKeil noted.
    McKeil adds, "What we don't see is a shared increase in teachers' pay or
benefits in the good times. Now is exactly the time for teachers to consider
organizing for the better good of their students and the industry."
    "As the first union private ESL school in Vancouver, we're relied on the
help of our colleagues to get the respect they've earned," says ETEA organizer
Lorraine Rehnby. "Our union drive has paid off. Clearly, a collective voice is
what the ESL-teaching community wants," Rehnby concluded.

    (*) ETEA, the Education and Training Employees' Association, is comprised
    of Local 1 (International Language Schools of Canada), Local 2
    (Language Studies Canada), certified in 2008, and soon-to-be Local 3
    (Pacific Language Institute). It is the largest faculty union in the
    BC private adult school system and is a member of FPSE, the
    Federation of Post-Secondary Educators. See for
    more information.

For further information:

For further information: Bari Blackhart, ETEA (ILSC) president, (604)
682-2465; Jeff McKeil, FPSE staff representative, (604) 341-2177; Lorraine
Rehnby, ETEA organizer, (778) 899-5252

Organization Profile

Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC

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