Support staff at Saskatchewans two universities voted by over 93% to reject the latest contract offer from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina. The vote occurred at a membership meeting earlier this month.
The employees, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1975, include clerical and library workers, caretakers and maintenance workers, technicians, security residence and food service workers. There are about 1,500 CUPE support workers at the University of Saskatchewan and 450 members at the University of Regina. Their collective agreement expired December 31, 2000.
The union negotiating committee recommended rejection of the offer because it did not contain sufficient cost of living protection. The Universities offered three per cent in each of two years. CUPE wants a three year agreement or higher increases in a two year agreement.
The union also wants the universities to ensure sufficient funding is available for the pay equity plan, expected to be completed by 2003. The Universities are offering a total of 3% of payroll, much less than the 6 8% of payroll required for similar plans.
Local CUPE President Jim Sharman says the employers lack of commitment to wage equality has angered members. Everyone knows that funding for pay equity adjustments must be separate from general wage increases its clearly stipulated in the governments pay equity policy. But the universities are insisting on tying it to the negotiated wage increases.
CUPE members at the universities also want coverage for an optical plan, but the employers are insisting it must be costed to the wage package. The employers also are proposing employees pay an increasing portion of the premiums of the existing disability benefit plans.
The University of Saskatchewan recently reached a collective agreement with the Faculty Association which averages 3% for full professors but provides for increases of up to 9% for lower ranked academic employees. That contract also provides for the addition of employer paid optical coverage.
CUPE President Sharman hopes the rejection vote will persuade the universities to adopt a more reasonable position at the bargaining table when the two sides resume negotiations on January 17 and 18.
For more information, call:
CUPE President Jim Sharman in Saskatoon at 966-7067
CUPE Staff Rep Jim Holmes in Regina at 525-5874, ext. 237