Members of CUPE rally for pensionsOver a thousand CUPE members and supporters rallied today outside of the University of Saskatchewan’s Board of Governors meeting to demand a fair deal for members of CUPE 1975.

The University of Saskatchewan is trying to eliminate the local’s secure Defined Benefit Pension Plan and replace it with an inferior Defined Contribution or Target Benefit Plan. In addition, they are pushing an insulting five-year wage offer of 0-0-0-2%-2% and a signing bonus of either $1,500 or $3,000 depending on which substandard pension offer the local agrees to.

“The Board of Governors has the decision-making authority to move the University away from its regressive and insulting wage offer. They have the power to make a deal and avoid strike action,” said Craig Hannah, President of CUPE 1975. “To date, they have refused to meet with us, and we are here today to tell them loud and clear: Our members deserve a secure retirement and a fair wage increase.”

The local was joined by CUPE National President Mark Hancock and over 500 delegates from CUPE’s National Bargaining Conference, which is taking place in Saskatoon from March 18 to 21.

“If the University thinks we’ll sit back and let them attack our members’ pensions and wages, they’ve got another thing coming,” said Hancock. “CUPE is 680,000 members strong and we stand with our sisters and brothers at CUPE 1975. We will fight tooth and nail for the retirement security of our members and of all workers.”

Representatives from other unions on campus were also on hand to speak and to show their solidarity.

Eric Neufeld, a professor of Computer Science spoke on behalf of the U of S Faculty Association. “We support CUPE 1975’s request for an in-person meeting with the U of S Board of Governors to explain their collective bargaining position – a meeting that has been repeatedly denied. We call for the Board of Governors to listen to the union, to seriously reconsider its priorities, and to find a fair solution to the pension issue that will avoid job action.”

“Like all workers, CUPE 1975 members deserve a decent and secure retirement after a career of work,” said Marianne Hladun, Prairies Regional Executive Vice-President for the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “PSAC and our members support CUPE 1975 in their fight for a secure retirement and fair wages.”

Lori Johb, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour had a message for the local. “The SFL will be with CUPE 1975 every step of the way. It’s time the U of S administration and Board of Governors get their Paws off your Pension!”