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Langara Faculty Association now a living wage employer

Expert discusses the potential impact of Langara following suit

A Langara cleaning staff walks down a hall in Building A.
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Reported by Christina Dommer

It’s hard to say whether Langara would benefit from paying its staff and contractors a living wage, said Langara economics instructor Bryan Breguet.

The Langara Faculty Association became a certified Living Wage Employer in late January, joining 145 others in the Living Wage for Families Campaign.

LFA Vice President Alison Curtis said that the motion was largely symbolic.

“There’s very little impact this action will actually have on the LFA,” Curtis said.

“We have one employee. And we already pay that person a living wage, so for our union to do it, and be certified, was symbolic.”

Motion passed

Motions passed at an AGM last May reveal that the LFA plans on contacting the college and propose that they rethink their contract with Best Service Pros, which provides campus janitorial services. According to the motions, Best Service Prosis the subject of over 50 complaints of unfair labour practices at the BC Labour Relations Board.

Breguet said that much research into the living wage and its benefits is inconclusive.

“I haven’t studied the living wage in particular, but I do teach labour economics, and so as part of labour economics we discuss the impact of a higher minimum wage,” Breguet said.

“If it really was costing us a lot more, it could actually end up costing the students more because [of] the increased tuition fees and other fees out there,” he added.

Transition period

Halena Seiferling, campaign organizer at Living Wage for Families, said that the transition to a living wage doesn’t have to be sudden.

“We have lots of employers who are willing to provide advice to others who are looking to apply with us,” Seiferlingsaid. Among them are Vancity Credit Union, SAP, and the City of Vancouver.

Curtis hopes to see more post-secondary unions ride the Living Wage wave.

“We would love to see Langara have bragging rights and become the first post-secondary institution in the province to be a certified Living Wage Employer,” she said.

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