U of S says CUPE VP’s letter was unfair labour practice
The U of S has filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board against its support-staff union – CUPE 1975 – and the union’s First Vice-President, Rhonda Heisler.
The University filed the complaint after Heisler sent a memorandum Oct. 13 on behalf of CUPE directly to the University’s president, its deans and other senior officials.
The U of S alleges that in sending the memo, the union and Heisler failed to bargain in good faith and attempted to undermine the authority of the University’s bargaining committee. It also charges that the CUPE memo provided false information about the state of collective bargaining and was an attempt by the union and Heisler to bargain directly with President Peter MacKinnon and the Board of Governors, rather than with the University’s bargaining committee.
The University and CUPE are currently in a series of collective bargaining sessions, trying to work out an agreement to follow the one which ran out last Dec. 31.
“In this letter, Ms. Heisler misrepresented the University’s position with respect to the Hood arbitration decision,” says Barb Daigle, U of S Associate Vice-President Human Resources. The Aug. 31 decision of an arbitration board chaired by William Hood found that an attempt to ‘cobble’ together different job ratings from the U of S and University of Regina was flawed. It also directed the U of S and CUPE to return to the Job Evaluation (JE) talks. The University announced Oct. 11 it is asking for a judicial review of the Hood decision.
“The union has stated an objective of reviving the Job Evaluation process by continuing to want to cobble the divergent Job Evalua-
tion Committee ratings (which are now over five years old in some cases),” Daigle says. “It is this process that Hood agreed had reached an impasse. This leads us to be concerned about how we will move through this impasse to reach a solution that is in the best interests of our staff and the University,” Daigle says, “without having to go through lengthy arbitration processes to determine if in fact the process was flawed from inception, in which case Hood stated that ‘the proper recommendation would be to shut the process down’.”
“We will continue to attempt to resolve these issues through the bargaining process and have tabled proposals that we are confident provide alternatives to continued legal processes. However, given that Ms. Heisler has acted inappropriately on behalf of CUPE, we unfortunately have no alternative but to take this action in response,” Daigle adds.
“We must hold them accountable for their actions. The Heisler letter took attention at the bargaining table away from focusing on finding solutions.”
Daigle adds that providing inaccurate or misleading information will not achieve positive results and impedes our ability to work together to resolve the issues at hand at the bargaining table, and achieve a new collective agreement that is consistent with our stated strategic goals.”
CUPE 1975 Saskatoon President Glenn Ross says union officials saw Heisler’s memo before it was sent, and had advice that it was acceptable to send. Ross says he feels progress was made at the latest bargaining sessions with the University, held Oct. 24-26.
At press time for this OCN, the CUPE local was planning a rally of its members in Nobel Plaza in front of the College Building at noon, Nov. 2.