Talks between the University of Saskatchewan and CUPE Local 1975 have further deteriorated after the Employer tabled a proposal to eliminate the Defined Benefit Plan and replace it with an inferior Defined Contribution or Target Benefit Plan. The local has informed the provincial Mediator that bargaining is at a standstill.

“During our December bargaining dates, our bargaining committee proposed a clear compromise in the interest of ending this dispute before it escalates. Our jointly sponsored defined benefit proposal would have saved the University millions of dollars per year, and they would have seen plan risks and costs equally shared by University and union members going forward,” said Craig Hannah, president of CUPE Local 1975. “The university once again rejected our constructive efforts to address their pension concerns and protect our benefit security. Their complete lack of willingness to compromise on the pension plan means that the U of S is pushing us closer to job action.”

Under the university’s proposals, CUPE members would assume all the risks and suffer the full impact of plan deficits. There are no legal requirements to fully fund target benefit plans, and any benefit that is promised can be reduced if the plan cannot fully fund those benefits.

“Currently, CUPE 1975 members can count on a guaranteed, predictable pension,” said Hannah. “But the University of Saskatchewan’s proposal will remove all certainty, and leaves workers in the dark about their retirement income.”

In addition, the Employer also put forward 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 we agree to. This wage offer is well below the monetary increases that other groups on campus have received.

CUPE 1975 has a strong strike mandate from their members, but they are not yet in a legal strike position.

“Like all workers, Local 1975 members deserve a decent and secure retirement after a career of work,” said Hannah. “CUPE 1975 is committed to fighting for a monetary deal our hardworking members deserve, including wage increases and pension security.”

CUPE 1975 represents 1900 members who work at the University of Saskatchewan in a variety of non-academic positions.  Their collective agreement expired December 31, 2015.