Support staff union OKs strike mandate
While bargaining continues, the union representing 1,800 support staff at the U of S received a strike mandate from its membership in a Sept. 6-7 vote.
CUPE 1975 announced Sept. 7 more than 76 per cent support strike action if necessary, in what it calls an attempt to pressure the University to modify its position.
The corresponding vote was held Sept. 7 in for the union’s 600 members who work at the University of Regina and the First Nations University of Canada.
Some union executive members told news media this week they’re unhappy with the University’s contract proposals on wages, benefits, seniority rules, the grievance process, and pay equity.
“The employer wants to weaken our seniority rights, reduce our health benefits and erode our grievance process, the union’s Regina president, Don Puff, charged in a Sept. 6 news release.
Saskatoon president Glenn Ross said the same day that while the strike vote shows support staff are frustrated at not having a contract since Dec. 31, 2003, bargaining is continuing and is far from breaking down.
“The strike vote idea came from the floor of a meeting, not from the executive. Negotiations are not at a crisis point. We had a very good session last week and have more meetings set for Sept. 8th, 20th and 22nd and will plan more as needed,” Ross said.
He said the strike vote is a move to show the University that people are frustrated, and it appeared there was a large turnout for the Tuesday vote on campus.
Puff said CUPE members “need to send a clear message to the employer that they are not prepared to accept concessions. Our hope is that a strike vote will motivate the employer to adopt a more reasonable position at the bargaining table.”
He said “we certainly don’t want to disrupt studies” at the University. A website message from the CUPE negotiating committee says, “We will be doing our best to try to reach an agreement ... Also, before commencing a full strike we would do things like working to rule, banning overtime, doing rotational walkouts and having rallies.”
The U of S Human Resources Division declined comment on the strike vote.