Arbitrator finds University of Saskatchewan in breach of collective agreement
REGINA/SASKATOON, SK. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is calling on the University of Saskatchewan to return to joint job evaluation talks following an arbitration award that found the university in breach of its collective agreement with the 2,400 workers represented by the union.
In a decision released last week, an arbitrator found the U of S in breach of the contract with CUPE Local 1975 for refusing to continue participating in the joint job evaluation process until its completion and refusing to use the impasse resolution process set out in the terms of reference. The arbitrator did not find the University of Regina in breach of the collective agreement.
The Universities and CUPE signed an agreement in September 1998 to develop a joint job evaluation process to achieve wage parity and pay equity for CUPE 1975 members at the two universities. After the U of S abandoned the process in 2003 to develop its own pay system, CUPE filed a grievance which led to the arbitration award.
“This decision confirms that we were right from the beginning,” says Don Puff, CUPE Local 1975-01 President representing workers at the U of R. “It’s time the University of Saskatchewan lived up to the trilateral agreement they signed so the gender-based wage inequities at the two campuses can finally be addressed.”
The employer wants pay equity increases to be included as part of a total compensation package during current contract negotiations.
But Glenn Ross, CUPE Local 1975 President representing workers at the U of S, says the job evaluation process must proceed separately from contract negotiations. “Under no circumstances should pay equity increases come at the expense of general wage increases for the whole membership,” says Ross. “We have already agreed to a joint process to achieve wage parity and pay equity. Our joint committees have done much work. Let’s finish what we started.”
CUPE Local 1975 represents about 1,800 members at the University of Saskatchewan and 600 members at the University of Regina. The members work in a variety of areas including clerical, maintenance and food services.
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