Arbitration Board hears arguments on CUPE-U of S job evaluation dispute
The U of S and the union representing its more than 1,500 support staff argued their cases to an arbitration board hearing held March 7-11 in Saskatoon on CUPE local 1975’s application to force the University back to a job evaluation (JE) pay equity process cut short when the U of S pulled out of the talks.
The University left the job evaluation table in November 2003, saying the process had no chance of succeeding. The JE discussions had gone on among CUPE, the U of S and the University of Regina for six years.
At that time, Barb Daigle, U of S Associate Vice-President of Human Resources said efforts to “cobble together” different job ratings from the U of S and U of R would have meant changing U of S results arrived at after years of hard work by campus employees and managers.
After the U of S pulled out of the JE talks, CUPE applied to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board to force it back to the table, but at LRB hearings in March 2004 both sides agreed to send the question to the arbitration board. CUPE National Representative Don Moran says he expects a decision from the three-member arbitration board, chaired by Saskatoon lawyer William Hood, in about two months.
After leaving the JE talks, the U of S in March 2004 tried to begin to address pay equity by creating new job classifications for about 800 campus clerical and library workers. The change, which gave many of the employees six-per-cent pay raises, was blasted by CUPE as “union-busting”.
In an effort to put more pressure on the University, the CUPE support-staff union held a rally in the Bowl March 8, coinciding with International Women’s Day.
Clerical employee Lois Dumbovic told about 150 at the rally the U of S is “an autocratic employer with tyrannical tendencies”, and if it doesn’t return to the JE talks, “we will be forced to try to get the University back to the table by other means.”
Provincial CUPE leader Tom Graham and CUPE 1975 First Vice-President Rhonda Heisler told the rally to keep pressing the University’s senior administrators to get back to the job evaluation process.
“Tell your employer you’ve had enough of it, and you’re not going to take it!” Graham said.
Heisler said, “We are in a fight for our lives and in a fight for fairness. We’re here today to share our disgust with the University.”
She urged campus support staff to write letters and make telephone calls to the offices of Daigle and President Peter MacKinnon, and made a rhyme of their phone numbers: “6285, Barb Daigle we’re alive!” and “6612, Peter MacKinnon where are you?”