Agreement averts potential CUPE strike
Job action, including a potential strike, was averted Jan. 25 when the U of S reached a tentative three-year agreement with the CUPE local representing some 1,600 workers who provide services including clerical, security, food and custodial.
CUPE 1975 and the University issued news releases applauding the agreement and saying it resolves outstanding concerns about job evaluation, pay equity and job-market issues. But according to CUPE Staff Representative Lois Lamon, “Although the agreement does not contain everything we wanted, we felt it was the best we could do without resorting to a full-scale strike.”
The last agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2003 and the new one, which includes CUPE workers at both the U of S and University of Regina, will run from Jan. 1, 2004 to Dec. 31, 2006. The union says the parties will meet Feb. 7-8 to finalize details of the agreement before ratification votes are held, likely later this month.
Barb Daigle, the University’s Associate Vice-President, Human Resources, said, “We believe this is a fair and competitive settlement that addresses a number of long-standing issues.” She said the union “worked intensely with us to find solutions for our shared issues” in the week leading up to the agreement.
Daigle said the agreement opens up entry-level job opportunities that will help with recruitment and retention of staff, and it “supports our Aboriginal representative workforce goals by opening doors for Aboriginal hiring while continuing to ensure advancement for CUPE members.”
The CUPE news release noted the agreement came after more than two years of “long, difficult” contract negotiations. “We have finally achieved an agreement we can recommend to our members,” CUPE Staff Representative Don Moran said.
The union release also said the agreement introduces a new compensation system “and resolves all of the outstanding litigations concerning job evaluation and pay equity. The tentative agreement provides pay equity increases for library and clerical workers up to July 1, 2009.” The release says the agreement also “provides campus-wide seniority for all members at the University of Saskatchewan, additional funding for benefits and improved rights (and benefits) for casual employees.”
The University news release said, “with this agreement, CUPE has clearly demonstrated its commitment to the institution and to the public by resolving issues at the table rather than through job actions. We believe this is a positive signal to a more productive and problem-solving focus in our labour relations with CUPE.”