Vancouver Island Regional Library -  Innovation Incubator Project - BCGEU

Members have recently seen an announcement of work described as a "Professional Development Opportunity" or a "BCGEU Expression of Interest". Some members have wondered about this work and the role of the Union in it.
During August, your Union has been involved with discussions with Vancouver Island Regional Library regarding the Innovation Incubator Pilot Project that VIRL is working toward establishing. The content of the project appears to be something that might interest some members and might expand the public services provided by VIRL.
The BCGEU supports quality public services including the enhancement and expansion of those services. The Innovation Incubator Pilot Project appears to have potential in this regard.
We believe it is important that the enhancement and expansion of public services include consultations with the workers who provide those services. Where there are possible labour relations implications, it is important that those consultations be with the Union that represents the workers.
The project introduced a number of labour relations issues that your union believed were proper for consultation. These included, but were not limited to:


  • What is the proper placement for wage purposes?
  • Should positions be posted with selection based on the criteria in the collective agreement?What travel expense provisions would apply?
  • In recognition of the current workload of librarians, what certainty of full backfill would be provided for time dedicated to the project?
  • Given the innovative nature of the project, what certainty would employees have that formal employee appraisals would not be adversely affected based on performance in work in a pilot project?
  • What protection would be provided so that employees' reporting relationships would be unchanged, i.e., that they would not have dual reporting relationships?

Although the Union had discussions with VIRL regarding the Innovation Incubator Pilot Project not all possible labour relations issues regarding this potentially valuable project were resolved through discussion and exchanges of documents with the Employer. The Union is in the process of deciding the best way to proceed with resolving those possible differences.
Your union believes it is responsible to advise members of the uncertainty of the labour relations aspects of the Innovation Incubator Pilot Project.
To be clear, the Union is not opposed to the Innovation Incubator Pilot Project. To the contrary, the Union supports innovative enhancement and expansion of public services. We have been able to celebrate exceptional services of BCGEU members at VIRL such as recognition of:


  • Colleen Nelson (BC Library Association YAACS award);
  • Justin Unrau, Emily Orr and Patrick Siebold (American Library Association Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Project); and
  • Jen Seper (American Library Association Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Project).

Hopefully the potential good of the Innovation Incubator Pilot Project can be fulfilled and other ventures can be successful. We believe that more success in establishing and developing a collaborative relationship between the Employer and Union can contribute to such projects, but that success in the collaborative relationship has not yet been achieved.
In solidarity
Ernie Gorrie
Staff Representative


Local 467/MoveUP

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