Volume 13, Number 5 October 21, 2005

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Review of JE decision sought

The U of S announced Oct. 11 it has applied for judicial review of the “controversial” Aug. 31 arbitration board decision on the job evaluation (JE) issue.

That decision ordered the parties – the University and its CUPE 1975 support staff union – to return to a process underway for more than seven years, and which had reached an impasse in 2003.

A U of S news release says the University believes the arbitrator erred in concluding that despite the parties reaching an impasse, they must return to the same process. The University contends that the process was fundamentally flawed from its inception and that the objectives are not achievable within the current JE committee structure.

The JE process, underway at both the U of S and University of Regina, ended up in an attempt to ‘cobble’ differing results of job classification at the two universities into similar classifications. In the Aug. 31 decision, the arbitrator stated that "the cobbling of ratings, as undertaken by the JESC, was not something that was within the authority of the JESC and therefore the U of S was correct in objecting to participate in this exercise". But the arbitrator also found that the U of S was wrong to not refer the matter to an impasse resolution process provided for in the JE project.

The University notes that after the Aug. 31 ruling, CUPE has said it will continue to pursue cobbling. The U of S states: “We believe this is not in the best interest of our employees.”

"We are committed to settling this long-standing issue through the bargaining process," says Barb Daigle, Associate Vice-President of Human Resources.

"At the end of the day, the University would be negotiating with the same people – whether at the bargaining table or the Job Evaluation Steering Committee – and with the same amount of money available to achieve a new collective agreement that is consistent with our stated strategic goals."

The University is still prepared to spend a planned four per cent on equity adjustments, and says it has already spent a considerable amount of it to bring the most seriously underpaid support staff – clerical and library workers – up to appropriate levels, in spring 2004.

"Settling this issue at the bargaining table once and for all will ensure that the remaining funds, and any new money available to support this round of bargaining is put to the best use – on people, not process," Daigle adds.

"In the meantime, bargaining continues, with dates set for Oct. 18, 19 and 20 in Saskatoon and Oct. 24, 25 and 26 in Regina, where we hope to come to a resolution."

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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