VANCOUVER BC- UBC negotiators failed, yesterday, to even respond to the March 22nd counter proposals offered by its three CUPE locals’ negotiating committees. The UBC, CUPE local had countered the university’s first and only monetary offer—one that failed to deal with contracting out, failed to address language that exploits students working in food services and added a wage freeze on the lowest paid UBC workers.
In fact, UBC negotiators did not even bother to return to the LRB yesterday, a common practice for this employer’s bargaining team during the two weeks all other universities have been in mediated bargaining at the BC Labour Relations Board in Vancouver.
“Disdain for the bargaining process and for members has been a regular occurrence with UBC’s appointed negotiators during the current round of bargaining,” said Connie Credico, CUPE bargaining co-ordinator. “It’s important to note that these locals have been bargaining for nearly a year. Yet, instead of responding to union proposals, UBC has chosen to communicate directly with members via platitude- and error-filled bulletins.”
The UBC Human Resources Department’s campus-wide March 23rd bulletin stated, “PSEC (Public Sector Employers Council) has told us in very clear terms that our mandates are final, and we are not permitted to settle in excess of them.”
Connie Credico, CUPE’s University Sector Co-ordinator is challenging the employer’s representatives to clarify exactly what they mean when they say that PSEC has made it clear what UBC’s final mandate is. “If we should be bargaining with PSEC and government,” says Credico, then why are they not here talking to us and why are they not putting those kinds of restraints on other university employers.”
“At a time when UBC seems to have so much to celebrate it seems a shame,” says Credico, “that their reputation is being maligned both by its shoddy treatment of employees who keep the place up-and-running from TAs to trades people and, by preventing the entire university sector from treating their support and teaching staff with the dignity they deserve.”
No one believes that what is happening in university bargaining could have possibly been imagined or foreseen when Finance Minister Carole Taylor proposed her March 31 deadline. “The university sector could have used Minister Taylor’s ultimatum last year,” said Credico. “That’s how long UBC locals have been trying to negotiate with their employer.”
CUPE and TSSU bargaining committees from all six BC universities–UBC, SFU, UVic, Royal Roads, UNBC and TRU (Thompson Rivers University) have been in mediated bargaining with employers at the BC Labour Relations Board since March 7. While negotiations have not been easy anywhere and the pressures associated with next week’s deadline have been significant, employers other than UBC have at least been respectful of the process.
“Settlements with the other public sector workers have demonstrated the kind of fairness, respect and security that UBC workers have been trying to achieve for over a year.” said Credico, “but in the case of UBC, Finance Minister Taylor’s incentives have been turned into a stick instead of a carrot.”
With one week left before the government’s deadline and pressure from all sides mounting, CUPE negotiators intend today, to present their employers, including UBC, with an offer for a fair settlement. Their proposed settlements seek to ensure that university support staff, trades, teaching assistants and instructors, many of whom have only received 2% wage increases during the last five years, also benefit from the government’s proposed incentive.
Visit: www.cupebargains.ca for more news about CUPE university bargaining