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October 4, 2012

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BC Universities Behind Picket Lines

VICTORIA—BC's five largest universities will be behind picket lines today. More than 12,000 CUPE support workers at all five campuses are launching job action aimed at getting their employers back to the bargaining table.

CUPE locals from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and the University of Northern BC are all in a legal position to strike today after serving 72-hour strike notice to the BC Labour Relations Board on Monday.  Actions will range from an overtime ban to a full shut down at UNBC.

CUPE support workers at the University of Victoria have been engaged in escalating job action since Sept. 4. CUPE members at Royal Roads, BC's sixth research university, approved strike action with a 96 per cent vote but have yet to serve 72-hour notice.

The strike action comes after two and a half years of fruitless negotiations without a single new contract signed. The main issues are job security, inflation protection and a fair and reasonable wage increase.

CUPE locals say the universities have the money and the mandate - it's time to get to the table and stay there until a contract is signed. 

Talks have centred on a four-year deal with no wage increases in the first two years under the BC Liberals' Net Zero Mandate for public sector workers for 2010 and 2011. Public sector workers at the BCGEU now have a tentative no concessions deal with 2-2% for two years.  

Today's actions reflect the level of frustration among CUPE university workers and their resolve to pressure the universities to bargain in good faith. 

Today's planned job actions:

University of Victoria 

Start time: 6:00am

CUPE 917 and 951 members will take out the University Centre building that houses food services, student services, financial aid and the UVic Farquhar Auditorium. This marks the first picket target inside the UVic Ring Road.

Contact:  Rob Park, CUPE 917 President:  250.882.7602
               Doug Sprenger, CUPE 951 President:  250.812.8484

Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops

Start Time: 9:10am

CUPE 4879 members will take out the facilities building then at 10:30 march to the Clocktower Admin Building for a noontime march and rally to the campus activity centre.

Contact:  Lois Rugg, CUPE 4879 President:  250.318.9919

University of BC, Vancouver

11:45am - 1:30pm

CUPE 116 members will be taking out plant operations (trades, custodial and mailroom staff) on East Mall. They will march at 11:45 to a 12:45pm rally at Goddess of Democracy on the North side of the SUB building with food and speeches by COPE President David Black and CUPE BC President Barry O'Neill.

Contact: Colleen Garbe, CUPE 116 President:  604.809.6116

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby

Noon – 3:00pm

CUPE 3338 members will institute an overtime ban and remove services from and picket the Maggie Benson Centre and WAC Bennett Library Building. A silent picket protest will be held on the main Convocation Mall Level.

Contact: John Bannister, CUPE 3338 Business Agent:  604.219.2205

University of Northern BC, Prince George

1:00pm - 4:30pm

CUPE 3799 members will be shutting down the entire Prince George campus. About 340 members will be picketing at the main entrance to the Prince George Campus.

Contact: Caroline Sewell, CUPE 3799 President:  250.640.5566

Royal Roads University, Victoria

11:45am - 12:45pm

CUPE 3886 members will hold an information picket outside the Habitat Cafe cafeteria handing out material on working and contract conditions (RRU has not served strike notice - this is an information picket only).   

Contact: Paul Allison, CUPE 3886 President:  250.213.8022

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