On Tuesday September 13, CUPE hosted a rally yesterday, attended by hundreds of people to support the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) staff, members of CUPE Local 3338. The staff have been locked out by their employer since July 10.
The rally brought together students, supporters and CUPE members from across the Lower Mainland. Speakers, including CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill, SFU Labour Studies instructor John-Henry Harter, NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert and SFSS staff member Nadine Chambers called on the Student Society’s Board of Directors to end the lockout, return to the bargaining table and restore student services.
In his comments, Barry O’Neill read a letter from Paul Moist, CUPE’s national president, to the locked out staff. Moist wrote that “all of our 608,000 members of CUPE, from coast to coast to coast, support you and are with you throughout this struggle.” O’Neill echoed those comments and called the staff’s efforts to reach a fair collective agreement “just and right”.
O’Neill then set his sights on the insulting, divisive and disrespectful tactics of the SFSS Board of Directors, including President Jeff McCann and Internal Relations Officer Jordan Kohn. In their last offer to union, the Board wanted to cut wages by up to 40 per cent, reduce permanent positions and pit current staff against future employees with reduced wages for new hires.
“Don’t think we’re going to sell out the rights we have negotiated through collective bargaining over the years. That’s not going to happen. The Board needs to stop taking away and start providing better services for students, not less.”
O’Neill vowed to be there for the locked out members of Local 3338. “Be strong. We’re going to be there and we’re going to win this fight whatever it takes and however long it takes.”