Stalled talks prompt call for action

Unit 1 Bargaining Bulletin#2, July 6, 2012

We have now met with the employer 16 times in the past two years. Here’s where we are following our latest meeting on Friday, June 29:

The Employer

  • Refuses to present a wage offer.
  • Refuses to discuss a significant money saving proposal made by the union that could also improve labour relations.
  • Refuses to reinstate the LTD appeal process unless our sick leave benefits are gutted.
  • Refuses to remove any concessions from their proposal made at the start of bargaining.

The employer says that its separate pension negotiations are its top priority. SFU says any money in the government-approved Cooperative Gains Savings Plan will be used for “total compensation.” This includes compensation for the ailing SFU Pension Plan, even though money in the Savings Plan is supposed to be applied directly to employee compensation (like wages). The employer has said any “leftover” savings might make it to our bargaining once the pension plan is “fixed”, but admits the pension process will be long and complicated.

Your Union

We have presented a wage proposal that the employer has refused to counter. We are no further ahead than we were and, although we still have a few dates scheduled for August, any movement from the employer is unlikely.

We asked SFU to tell us what is in the Savings Plan and how they intended to apply it and they refused. The employer did say that salary discussions would not take place until after the pension is “fixed.”  We expect them to try to gut your pension plan and we expect them to try to continue stalling our contract talks while they do it. We don’t expect there will be any “leftover” savings when that process is finally completed.

The Next Step

We need to put the employer on notice that we should be at the table with them bargaining in good faith for a fair and reasonable contract. We need to let SFU know that two years of stalling is unacceptable – that we are serious about our jobs and our future. We need to let them know that this could lead to job action. We need to take a strike vote.

The province’s Net Zero mandate froze our wages, now the Cooperative Gains mandate threatens to keep us falling further behind. Our wages have not even kept pace with inflation. We need a strong strike vote mandate to show that we will not be bullied into working more for less.

Strike votes have already been taken at our sister CUPE locals at UBC, UVic and UNBC with mandates as high as 93%.  We should stand with our coworkers and send the provincial government a strong, united message – restore adequate funding to our universities and negotiate fair and reasonable contracts with the thousands of support workers who make our universities work!