GBCCC's entrance
The certification comes after months of tension between management and staff at the GBCCC. Photo: Bridget Coady/Fulcrum
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Changes breed hope for a healthier work environment at campus child care centre

On Dec. 17, employees of the Garderie Bernadette Child Care Centre (GBCCC) received official certification of unionization by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). This comes after months of tension between early childhood educators (ECEs) and the GBCCC’s Board of Directors (BOD). Following the formal certification of the union, the BOD resigned and a new board was elected. 

The series of events that culminated in the certification began in April 2021, when concerns of labour inequity were presented to the BOD by ECEs. Feeling as though the issue was a structural problem within the organization, the centre’s staff began to consider unionization. 

Employees were frustrated about unclear bylaws, a lack of mental health support, improper scheduling, and insufficient staffing. Tensions came to a head after an undisclosed incident drove the staff to begin the unionization process.

The first application filed by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in October was denied by the OLRB due to a minor wording issue that delayed the certification process.

A union does not need certification for voluntary compliance, however, as stated in a Dec. 17 press release from the IWW. The BOD at GBCCC “now has a legal obligation to bargain in good faith with the union.”

The other significant change which accompanied this new certification was the resignation of the former BOD. The press release explains that the union hopes this may create a new and healthier relationship between the BOD and the staff at GBCCC. 

In a statement, the Bernadette Workers Union organizers expressed gratitude to the parents that reached out in support of their efforts. Additionally, they stated their continued commitment to high-quality childcare.

“Everyone has worked so hard and everyone is tired. But everyone cares so much about each other and the children and families at our centre. There have been a lot of challenges, but we have met those challenges by working together to fight for what we deserve and to make our centre the best that it can be,” said Britt Griffth, a registered ECE and GBCCC worker in the statement.