The majority of Pacific Language Institute (PLI) teachers did not initially want to unionize. Prior to Kaplan Aspect purchasing PLI, most teachers had a good relationship with management and, when they had a problem, they felt that they could go directly to their managers and that their needs and concerns were acknowledged and generally addressed.
Following the purchase of PLI, this state of affairs did not really change for the first while. However, in early 2009, subtle e-mails were sent out, indicating that everyone was going to have to make sacrifices and that the status quo would no longer be acceptable. Also, we started to notice that we had not received our annual pay raise; we were not notified of this pay freeze, nor was it explained until someone from Toronto came and informed us that we should feel lucky to be working and that we should just accept the freeze in our wages. We felt that our concerns were being ignored. Furthermore, the fact that decisions seemed to be being made in New York was also cause for concern, so we decided that the time had come for us to form a union. In the spring of 2009, 96% of the staff voted to unionize.
Bargaining began in the summer of 2009 and, by April 2010, a Collective Agreement was reached and teachers could work knowing their jobs were more secure and that both pay and vacation time were protected. Our relationship with management has improved and both management and the association appreciate the fact that we can speak to each other frankly and openly and that each party knows its rights. When a problem arises, there is more power and strength behind what we say because we are able to speak with one voice. The school is currently known as Kaplan.