Members of CUPE 1334 which represents trades, maintenance and service workers at the University of Guelph, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action in a vote completed yesterday.

93% voted in favour of authorizing the union to take strike action if they cannot reach an agreement with the university administration. The major bargaining issues are job security and the proposed contracting out of cleaning services for three buildings on campus.

“The administration has shown nothing but disrespect to these hard-working women and men,” says Janice Folk-Dawson, president of CUPE 1334, “we are trying to negotiate a contract that provides good and stable jobs at the University of Guelph, and they have responded by threatening to contract out services on campus, replacing good jobs with low-wage, precarious work.”

The desire to contract out cleaning services comes after the university significantly reduced its cleaning budget in 2015. Deliberately leaving service positions vacant and a reduction in cleaning frequency by the administration has resulted in the University of Guelph facilities being given a grade of “unkempt neglect” for cleanliness by an independent review.

“It goes to show the University of Guelph’s disregard for the learning environment of its students,” Folk-Dawson said, “they would rather cut services that affect the facilities in which students work and attend class, while attempting to transition their workforce from trained professionals with stable, long-term jobs, to a rotating cast of temporary and low-wage workers.”

The union and the university are scheduled to meet again on February 16 and 17 with the assistance of a provincially-appointed mediator.

“The university was once named a top employer in Canada, but now Guelph is on the path from “top employer” to low-wage employer. We hope that they can come to their senses and negotiate a contract that strengthens the university community,” Folk-Dawson added, “but if they don’t, our members have demonstrated that they are prepared to fight for good jobs on campus.”