Ontario college support staff set to strike Sept. 1

University of Sherbrooke bargaining, Queen’s University ratifies deal
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/01/2011

More than 8,000 college support workers could delay the start of the new school year at Ontario’s 24 community colleges by walking off the job on Sept. 1, 2011.

UPDATE: Ontario’s college support staff on strike

The union representing the workers and college management will resume negotiations on Aug. 23, 2011. The union says management hasn’t presented any “meaningful dialogue” since contract negotiations began in June 2011.

“Students should be very aware that the start of the school year will be jeopardized as long as college management refuses to negotiate seriously,” said chair of OPSEU bargaining team Rod Bemister. “We urge all students to contact their college president today and demand that a deal gets negotiated as soon as possible.”

The union is demanding to maintain the pay and benefits they have accrued in previous contracts. The expiring collective agreement has employees working full-time for more than one year being paid between $17.22 and $38.74 per hour.

The College Employer Council has said it “remain[s] confident that we can reach a settlement that is reasonable to our employees and affordable for the colleges …”

University of Sherbrooke

Support staff at Quebec’s University of Sherbrooke held a 24-hour strike on Aug. 17, 2011, hoping to pressure university management into speeding up negotiations

About 1,280 support staff have been without a collective agreement since Dec. 31, 2008, while another 120 support employees working on research have been without a contract since June 16, 2006.

“The main stumbling block in these negotiations concerns, quite simply, is wage increases that match the cost of living. The university administration is trying to hide behind the Quebec government’s wage policy and this will tend to make our members poorer,” said president of the Syndicat des employées et employés de soutien de l’Université de Sherbrooke (SEESUS-CUPE, Local 7498) Stéphane Caron. “The institution’s financial status does not in any way justify this step backwards.”

The University has indicated a contingency plan will be put in place if the union decides to deploy pressure tactics and it hopes to reach an agreement soon.

Queen’s University

Three technical and maintenance bargaining units at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. have ratified tentative agreements reached with the University on Aug. 6, 2011.

The agreement will see the following wage increases over the four-year life of the agreement:

  • July 1, 2011 – 1.25 per cent
  • July 1, 2012 – 2.0 per cent
  • July 1, 2013 – 2.25 per cent
  • July 1, 2014 – 3.0 per cent

The tuition assistance fund will also increase by $20,000 in the first year, and $10,000 in each of the second and third years, bringing the total to $100,000.

Support staff will also see the pension plan increase by 2.5 per cent over the duration of the agreement, but will see an initial 4.5 per cent initial claw back to pension fund to guarantee no losses in pension due to market conditions.

The deal covers 430 technicians, library staff, trades, custodial and food service employees.

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