REGINA/SASKATOON, SK. - “Workers at the two largest universities in the province have voted to send a strong message to their employers to drop their demands for concessions and negotiate a fair agreement,” says union spokesperson Rhonda Heisler.
Workers at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina – members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1975 – sent the message by voting over 76 per cent in support of taking job action, she says.
The job action votes were held in Saskatoon on Tuesday and in Regina on Wednesday.
More than 2,400 CUPE 1975 members at the two universities (not the First Nations University of Canada) are covered by a provincial bargaining agreement that expired December 31, 2003.
“Members are angry and frustrated that after 21 months of negotiations, our employers continue to insist on concession after concession,” says Don Puff, President of the CUPE 1975 local in Regina. “This strong mandate is one way to tell our employers to ‘get real’ and start negotiating a fair agreement.”
Puff says contract negotiations won’t go anywhere if the employers continue to insist on language that weakens their seniority rights, reduces their health benefits and denies our joint committee process.
Heisler says the union negotiating committee hopes the employer will adopt a more constructive attitude at the bargaining table as a result of the job action mandate.
The union won’t need to wait long to find out. Contract talks resume today in Regina.
CUPE 1975 represents about 1,800 members at the University of Saskatchewan and 600 members at the University of Regina. They work in a variety of areas including clerical, maintenance and food services.
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