After facilities management workers at Brock University voted unanimously over the weekend in favour of a strike mandate, their union is putting the university on notice that a fair wage increase and better job security are key to ensuring that operations on campus continue without interruption.
CUPE 1295 held the ballot in advance of this Thursday’s bargaining date with Brock. The union represents approximately more than 150 permanent and casual facilities management staff at the university, where CUPE members work as cleaners, groundskeepers, tradespersons, maintenance workers, parking lot attendants, and others.
“We know what’s at stake in this round of bargaining,” said Ken McClelland, president of CUPE 1295. “That’s why we’re urging Brock to recognize that facilities management workers are determined to get a deal that values their work and their contribution to campus life.”
The “yes” strike vote puts the workers a step closer to a legal strike, if the university and the union fail to reach an agreement on a new contract.
“Eight and nine years ago, when Brock was in financial straits, we sacrificed for the good of the university and took zero increases. Then for the past three years, Bill 124 restricted our wage hikes to
1 percent. Now inflation is running at 8 percent – the highest in 39 years. Our members need a contract that recognizes what working people are dealing with day to day.”
The strike vote also reflects CUPE members’ concerns about the fate of Brock’s casual workers, said McClelland, noting that “Brock wants to make casual workers’ jobs even more precarious by reducing their shifts from six hours to four. A university that has just recorded its highest-ever enrolment shouldn’t treat its workers this way.”
McClelland said that the local has never had a strike in its 52-year history, but that since the pandemic began, facilities management workers have a renewed appreciation of the ways that the services they provide allow Brock’s operations to run smoothly and safely.
“During COVID, facilities management workers put their lives on the line to make sure staff, students and faculty could return to a safe campus. It’s one more reason, along with the skyrocketing cost of living, that we’re determined to get a deal that respects us and the value of our work at Brock.”