VANCOUVER—CUPE locals at UBC have issued some challenges to the university in the wake of UBC’s designation as one of the best local employers in the Georgia Straight Readers’ Choice awards.
“CUPE represents thousands of workers at UBC and we would welcome an opportunity to work with our employer to improve the quality of work life, staff morale and labour relations,” says Colleen Garbe, president of CUPE 116.
Garbe says a key challenge is to improve infrastructure and the environment on campus. “We have flagged for UBC the need to maintain buildings, facilities and services, including sustainable, modern and interactive learning opportunities for students. On environmental issues, UBC could take leadership immediately by committing to protect the historic farm and to provide more water fountains on campus,” says Garbe.
A second challenge is to have UBC live up to its TREK 2010 vision of a civil and sustainable society that treats its employees respectfully and equitably. Natalie Lisik, president of CUPE 2950, says that UBC staff need better access to recreational facilities on campus and more flexible working arrangements. “UBC could also offer more educational opportunities for staff, and guarantee child care spaces not only for those who buy its condos, but also for staff,” says Lisik.
Addressing health and safety issues is a third key challenge says Garbe. “UBC is a complex organization. As we saw during last year’s lockdown of buildings during security threats – our members can face scary situations and want to know that the employer has properly planned for CUPE members’ safety in these situations too.”
A fourth challenge is to find more positive ways of working together. “We have many unresolved grievances, taking up valuable time, energy, and money. Resolving these more quickly would mean a much healthier and happier workplace.” Garbe adds that there have been some difficult rounds of bargaining, including strikes in 1999 and 2003.
Lisik says that a fifth challenge is to improve UBC’s ability to keep its skilled and experienced workers and attract new ones. “Many positions have remained vacant for more than a year, negatively affecting staff workload and morale,” says Lisik.
CUPE locals 116, 2278 and 2950 represent about 6,600 staff that provide a wide range of administrative, support, trades, technical and educational services at UBC.
Contact: Colleen Garbe, CUPE 116, 604.222.0116; Natalie Lisik, CUPE 2950, 604-822-1494; Roseanne Moran, CUPE Communications, 604.291.1940