Bargaining Bulletin – June 25, 2015

To CUPE 951 Members,

It’s been a while since we issued a formal update on bargaining so this one’s a little lengthy yet definitely worth reading …

UVIC employee and student groups met this week to discuss the status of contract bargaining, increased costs of residence housing and tuition, underfunding of post-secondary institutions and the upcoming federal election.  Student / worker solidarity was reinforced by this meeting and commitments were made to continue to build these important relationships.

More on this story at http://www.cupe951.ca/campus-solidarity-students-and-workers/

Congratulations to the UVIC Faculty Association on their negotiation of a first collective agreement and to CUPE Local 4163 Component 3 (Sessional Lecturers) on their tentative agreement.  These achievements and the contract settlements at UBC and UNBC are encouraging, however UVIC’s bargaining with CUPE 917 and 951 has been unsuccessful to date and CUPE is at a place where pressure needs to increase to get UVIC back to the bargaining table to address our members’ key issues.

CUPE 951 exchanged proposals with UVIC on September 30, 2014 and has met with the employer’s team on 17 occasions since then. Over the course of bargaining we have fully discussed all issues and come to a “common understanding” on proposed changes to many areas of our collective agreement, however UVIC has refused to sign off any changes that are not merely housekeeping.

Bargaining between January and April was characterized by a series of employer “packages” that were “all or nothing” settlement proposals.  The employer met with both CUPE 917 and 951 on March 25 and insisted that their settlement offers that day were close to their bottom line, however these offers did not address our members’ most important concerns about job security, the potential for massive workplace change arising from the Core Services Review and the negative impact of Shared Services.

CUPE 951 responded to UVIC on April 14 with a comprehensive settlement proposal that the employer mocked despite significant movement on our part to reduce our demands and focus on a small number of sticking points.  In particular the employer was outraged that our members continue to insist on greater job security protection in light of the employer’s refusal to adhere to our Article 30 Technological and Organizational Change language.

The parties agreed to a process to try to resolve the Tech/Org Change issues away from the bargaining table with the assistance of mediator John Hall, and CUPE 951 retained Carmela Allevato as legal counsel.  We met on May 6 and 11 and it became clear that UVIC had no interest in mediating a mutually agreed definition of what constitutes “change” under Article 30.

Despite two full days of discussion with the mediator, UVIC would only offer up what they described as an “efficient process” that would reduce the employer’s obligations to provide formal notice, limit the notice period and restrict consultation. This alternative process would be much less than current obligations to give notice to the Union about change “which affects the terms and conditions or security of employment of employees” and consult about the “substance of the change and its predicted impact on employees.”

UVIC’s failure to respond to the Union’s concerns about impending workplace changes has prompted us to forward our Tech/Org Change grievances to arbitration and we will be seeking a third party ruling to instruct the employer and the union on how to work together through what we anticipate will be a difficult period of downsizing, mergers and other organizational changes to departments.

The unproductive mediation coupled with UVIC’s refusal to extend the agreement bargained in 2012 that provided for enhanced severance and retraining funds has a negative impact on CUPE 951 bargaining and we are not optimistic that it will be possible to resolve outstanding job security, job evaluation, and benefits issues without job action.

Government has mandated a five-year term until March 31, 2019 with a wage offer that is below the rate of inflation.  We have been vigorously working toward bringing back a compensation package that includes both wage and benefit improvements.

Our Negotiating Committee, working with the new Executive Board, will update the membership on strategies to achieve a positive settlement.  Our Union is known for trying everything possible to move the employer to address our issues and we will work closely with CUPE 917 and 4163, the Professional Employees and Faculty Associations and the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Societies to ensure that we build on the solidarity forged during job action in 2012 to assist us in achieving our goals for this round of bargaining.

Your CUPE 951 Negotiating Committee: Teresa Dixon, Karen Dykes, Arden Little, Kirk Mercer, Pat Shade, Doug Sprenger, Paul Totzke, Kara White, Laurie Whyte