McMaster cleaning and maintenance staff vote on final offer

Union looks to stall final count, seek arbitrated settlement
||Last Updated: 08/05/2014

A contract vote for McMaster University’s cleaning and maintenance staff will be held on Aug. 5, 2014, after more than seven months of negotiations.

McMaster called for the vote after a provincial conciliator failed to bring the parties to a settlement.

According to the Building Union of Canada (BUC), the university threatened to turn to private companies if the 271 cleaners and trades workers do not accept the school’s latest wage offer.

“We want these people to remain employees of the university, but we also want them to understand this is our final and best offer,” said university spokesperson Gord Arbeau. “This is a serious matter and we encourage all of our employees to get informed and vote.”

The BUC, however, is investigating its legal options to delay counting the ballots while it applies for an arbitrated settlement.

The union said it won’t settle for anything less than the $14.95 per hour living wage identified for Hamilton, Ont. McMaster’s latest offer of a 5.69 per cent raise over the next five years would reportedly accomplish that goal but the union wants to get there sooner, calling for raises of 12.5 per cent over two years.

Craig Bromell — president of the BUC — accused the university of trying to intimidate workers, many of whom are single mothers.

“These are women who are working hard for the university and are still living below the poverty line,” Bromell said. “We really believe that this is going to harm the image of McMaster University.”

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