BURNABY—Frustrated by SFU’s refusal to negotiate, the union representing clerical and other support staff is pulling out of pension discussions. CUPE 3338 says it will no longer help the university with its ailing pension plan until it has a new collective agreement for CUPE members.
The university has placed the pension plan before contract talks and has refused to negotiate with the 1,000 members of CUPE 3338. The last contract expired in 2010. CUPE 3338 served strike notice three weeks ago and has been ramping up job action with rotating picket lines at all three campuses to pressure SFU back to the table.
“We will no longer be held hostage by an administration that has enjoyed substantial wage and compensation increases while the CUPE members who make this university work aren’t even keeping up with inflation,” says CUPE 3338 president Lynne Fowler. “The university has arbitrarily chosen not to negotiate seriously with its workers for more than two years, so we are choosing not to participate in their pension discussions.” Wages for CUPE members at SFU have fallen almost 10 per cent behind inflation since 2000.
While SFU has been stalling, BC’s other universities have respected their CUPE staff by engaging in constructive collective bargaining, says Fowler. At UBC, Thompson Rivers and UNBC that has lead to new collective agreements. At UVic the negotiations continue in earnest. “Now the CUPE workers and the management at those institutions can get on with the job of providing first class post secondary education,” says Fowler, “and that’s where we should be with SFU – at the table.” She adds that, “at SFU the employer has refused to seriously consider a single one of the union’s proposals in the past 2 ½ years.”
The union says it will continue to ramp up legal job action, up to and including the possibility of a full-fledged strike at all three campuses. “We have exhausted our options trying to work cooperatively with this administration,” says Fowler, “we will be increasing job action until they show good faith and engage us at the bargaining table.” Pickets were up at SFU’s Surrey campus today (view photos).
CUPE 3338 represents clerks, clerk typists, secretaries, word processing operators, computer operators, library assistants, technicians, lifeguards, financial aid advisors, building technologists, programmer analysts, buyers, stores clerks, information specialists, control clerks, department resource specialists, maintenance schedulers and programmers.