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At a general meeting, the 1,900 members of the Syndicat des employés de l’Université de Montréal (SEUM-CUPE 1244) voted 90 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement. The agreement in principle was reached on December 1, several hours after the expiration of the previous contract. The new contract runs from December 1, 2010 to May 31, 2014.

The agreement provides for salary increases of 6.75 per cent minimum and 10.25 per cent maximum, according to the GDP for the period from December 1, 2009 to April 30, 2015. These increases reflect the wage policy of the Government of Quebec. The agreement also includes subsidies for parental leave. For example, paid maternity leave at 90 per cent has been extended to a potential duration of 35 weeks when combined with two-year leave without pay. For paternity leave, the potential duration has been increased to 16 weeks.

“The goal of our members and our bargaining committee was to maintain what we had gained. For our members close to retirement, we have ensured the stability of the pension plan. For our members who are starting a family, we have made improvements to parental leave. There’s something in it for each generation,” said Margaret Lapointe, president of the SEUM.

Interestingly, members working at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Saint-Hyacinthe were able to attend the meeting live via videoconference.

In addition, the SEUM Pay Equity Committee obtained an agreement on December 1, concluding the process under the Pay Equity Act. The union will issue a press release on the results when they are officially posted in the coming days.

SEUM represents approximately 1,900 support staff at the Université de Montréal, about 80 per cent of whom are women in a wide range of jobs including office workers, technicians, librarians, and more.

With nearly 105,000 members in Quebec, CUPE represents some 11,000 members in Quebec universities, mainly support staff and lecturers. Present in several other sectors, including health and social services, municipalities, energy, urban and air transport, communications, and Quebec government corporations and public agencies, CUPE is also the largest affiliate of the FTQ.