BURNABY—CUPE local 3338 at Simon Fraser University has been in negotiations for two years to arrive at a fair settlement for the 15 full-time and 5 term/student CUPE staff that support SFU students within the Simon Fraser Student Society.
In what can only be interpreted as an ideological move against the union, the Simon Fraser Student Society Board of Directors, led by new president Jeff McCann, broke off mediation and then served their staff with a 72 hour lockout notice. Local 3338 members that work for the Simon Fraser Student Society will be locked out on Sunday, July 10, at 2:13pm. Once the lockout is in place, SFU students will see reduced services and closures to important programs.
CUPE staff who work for the Simon Fraser Student Society spend their days providing services that help students succeed in their studies and on campus. The staff members run vital programs that support and promote a safe and inclusive campus for the entire SFU community. These services include running the SFSS Women’s Centre that provides much-needed peer support and crisis referrals. Staff members at the SFSS also oversee Out on Campus and the delivery of programs and services for SFU’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students and their allies.
From the SFSS website: “The permanent staff of the SFSS are professionals who have specialized skills related to organizing, non-profit administration, finance and accounting, peer support, graphic design, project management and much more. Several of them have worked for student unions for more than 10 years, some more than 30.” For SFU students, this lockout puts events, space, and funding in jeopardy for the campus’ many clubs and student unions.
Since bargaining began, the union has recognized that the SFSS currently faces a financial management crunch and has proposed measures to assist the Society to get through this period. These proposals have been rejected despite the fact that they would go a long way towards covering funding shortfalls. The union’s proposals, including suspending cost of living increases (COLA), have been rejected by the SFSS. In return, the SFSS has proposed only dramatic wage rollbacks and cuts to staffing levels.
If the SFSS moves ahead with this lockout, important services that more than 20,000 SFU students rely on will be unavailable. Not only will the SFSS Copy Centre, Women’s Centre and Out on Campus resources be shutdown, but support for a wide variety of clubs and departmental unions will be unavailable.
CUPE staff know that students at SFU pay fees for the services provided by SFSS and they take that responsibility very seriously. That is why CUPE 3338 has worked very hard to meet the employer more than halfway. The Simon Fraser Student Society staff are asking the employer to return to the table so both parties can work together to find a fair settlement.