VANCOUVER - CUPE Local 2278 at the University of British Columbia served 72-hour strike notice this afternoon. The move comes after the members of the local voted 76% in favor of strike action on Wednesday. The union says that job action will likely start on Monday.
The union has been in negotiations for more than two years and in mediation since April. The last contract expired in 2010. The two other CUPE locals at UBC have already reached collective agreements with the university. Those settlements are for no concessions and 2% wage increases in each of the final two years of four-year deals. CUPE 2950 has ratified its new agreement while CUPE 116 is in the process of a member ratification vote.
CUPE 2278 incoming president Trish Everett says the call for strike action came from the members themselves and reflects the growing frustration with the lack of progress in talks. “Despite all that time in mediation, we have made virtually no progress on our core issues,” says Everett, “so we feel we have to resort to job action to move the process along.”
“We have two major issues apart from wages, and those issues have not been fully dealt with at the table. For our membership, 2% wage increases don’t mean much because we are students facing 2% tuition increases every year, so we need some form of tuition waiver or protection from annual tuition increases.” Everett says the other main issue is for an extended hiring preference that would give student employees some job security in their final years as graduate students and acknowledge the extra time it takes to complete a degree.
CUPE 2278 represents about 2,300 teaching assistants, tutors, markers and English language instructors at UBC.