TORONTO — The refusal by their employer to withdraw concession demands has forced the members of CUPE 1281 at the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) to file for conciliation.
“This is about respect for the education, skills, experience and commitment that we bring to our jobs,” said bargaining committee chair Donna Gray.
OCUFA, the provincial umbrella organization for faculty associations at Ontario universities, is demanding that job descriptions be taken out of the collective agreement so that management can unilaterally alter the scope of bargaining unit work — and can go around the union when determining the work load of individual CUPE 1281 members.
Salary equity issues are important at this table. OCUFA has started new staff above staff with as much as six years’ experience in the same classification, arguing that “the market” and not the collective agreement will determine salaries. The insistence on paying “market rates” for salaries has led to gender anomalies as well, with OCUFA paying a woman doing the same job as a man less money, sometimes as many as five pay grades below the man. The employer insists on retaining an 11-year salary grid, which is way out of line with similar organizations.
A third significant issue is the failure of management to recognize the needs of retired workers. OCUFA will not so much as counter a union proposal for retirement severance — a near-universal feature in comparator organizations. It has even refused to respond to a union appeal that retired workers’ need for benefits be acknowledged. Currently, retirees — some of whom have more than two decades of service — leave with their pension and a small, one time contribution to a benefit plan.
“We deeply regret we have to move to conciliation,” said Gray. “But OCUFA has failed to counter any of our proposals in a meaningful way and has refused to withdraw its key concession demands.
“In fact, at our last meeting OCUFA returned to the table with the same offer the union had already rejected. “We have shown flexibility on our proposals. When we saw OCUFA refusing to budge, we knew we had to take the next step,” she said.
The collective agreement, covering the seven policy and administrative staff at OCUFA, expired last December.
For more information, contact: Jim Morrison, CUPE National Representative, 416-292-3999 ext 289; Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-292-3999 ext 240