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Jordana Feist | CUPE Research

Despite a high number of concessions demanded by employers and pressure created by government austerity budgets, many CUPE locals are making gains at the bargaining table.

In 2013, 298 CUPE agreements were settled. Of those, 71 reported concessions demanded by the employer, meaning roughly one in four bargaining tables sees at least one concession demanded by the employer.

The most commonly demanded concessions were changes to pension, sick leave, and overtime provisions. And when an employer is demanding multiple concessions, it can often be tough to resist them all. Many locals have had to make trade offs to improve their contract.

Despite these challenges, the majority of bargained contract improvements were made without granting concessions.

Some of the most common improvements include bereavement leave, vacation leave, safety equipment or clothing allowances, floating days off and paramedical coverage (massage, podiatry, chiropractic care, etc.) Many locals also made gains in vision, hearing and dental care, while others gained access to direct pay insurance cards. Despite the fact that sick leave banks were the frequent target of concession demands, in some places sick bank increases were achieved.

Along with benefits improvements, many locals made gains protecting the work of the bargaining unit, improving health and safety provisions, or clarifying the intentions of the employer.

In 2014, we are on alert for trends toward tiered collective agreements, where new hires or part-time members are eligible for less compensation than their colleagues. Continued attacks on pensions, sick leave banks and overtime are also expected.

Watch for regular reports on benefits trends in future issues of Tabletalk.