The union representing 240 trades, maintenance and service workers warned that negotiations with Guelph University are moving ‘backwards, not forward,’ raising the likelihood of a work stoppage that could begin as early as Monday morning.

“I felt the most recent offer that came to us was a betrayal,” said Janice Folk-Dawson, President of Local 1334 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 1334).

The union is attempting to ensure the protection of good, stable jobs that support the community, including securing permanent employment for 39 current temporary workers.

“In good faith, we believed we were discussing a path to permanent work for workers who in some cases have been here for seven years. Somehow, that morphed into a proposal where these workers and many others would then risk being transformed into permanent employees – for as few as eight months a year,” said Folk-Dawson.

“That’s not just a bait-and-switch, that’s bargaining backwards, rather than forward. We have the weekend to reach an agreement, and if this is how Guelph intends to spend the weekend, I am not optimistic we can reach agreement before the deadline,” she added.

The two sides will continue to meet throughout the weekend with the assistance of a Provincially-appointed mediator, in advance of a lockout or strike deadline of 12:01 a.m., Monday, March 13, and the University’s upcoming College Royal Open House, which takes place March 18 and 19.

“There is a great deal of effort that goes into ensuring our campus is at its very best for the many prospective students and their families who come to the University for College Royal. Now is not the time to be moving backwards. It’s time to get serious about negotiating a fair collective agreement,” said Folk-Dawson.