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VANCOUVER—December brought not only the expected exams for CUPE 116 members at the UBC Aquatic Centre, most of whom are students, but also a new agreement.

On December 13, the members ratified an agreement that will expire in December 2010. A whirlwind round of bargaining began at the end of November, when CUPE 116 president Colleen Garbe was advised that the existing agreement, ending on December 31, 2007, had to be renewed by December 10 in order to be eligible for provincial government’s Early Incentive funds.

Aquatic Centre shop steward Katie Trant established a bargaining committee consisting of herself, Luke Lynette-Krech and Dan Minster. The committee reviewed the membership’s bargaining surveys and got membership ratification of bargaining proposals, then headed to the table. “We negotiated for three days and arrived at a settlement that met with the members’ approval. This put a lot of pressure on our members, with exams and other activities, but I am pleased with the agreement,” says Trant.

The agreement covers 69 members at the Aquatic Centre and provides wage increases of 2.2 per cent in January 2008 and 2.3 per cent in January 2009 and January 2010.

Garbe says that the local has been working to get better acknowledgement of the important role UBC facilities contribute to not only the academic community of students, faculty and staff, but also the broader community that now lives at or close to UBC. “Understanding that UBC is a community means that workers like these would be compared to others in surrounding municipalities,” says Garbe.

CUPE National servicing representative Diane Jolly, who was at the table with the local, agrees. “The wages for these members are still far below those of CUPE aquatic workers in community pools in surrounding municipalities. We’ve got some distance to go before these members’ wages recognize the contributions they make to their community,” she says.

“The local’s bargaining committee was committed to getting a negotiated settlement in spite of the timing. I’m pleased we were able to meet the deadline, reach an agreement endorsed by the membership, and ensure the members will receive the provincial government incentive.”

While the Public Sector Employers’ Council has approved the agreement, the UBC Board of Governors has not yet ratified the settlement, but is expected to do so.