Vote final step for deal between union, university

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

The university and the support workers represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4879 are close to signing a new contract.

The four-year contract is backdated to 2010 and will last until April 1, 2014, but it has to be approved by a vote of the union’s membership before it becomes official.

“We’re extremely glad to come to a fair and sustainable agreement,” said Christopher Seguin, TRU’s VP advancement.

No representative from CUPE 4879 was available for comment before press deadline.

In the first two years, union members won’t get any increases in wages. This follows the provincial government’s net zero mandate in those years, in which no government workers were supposed to get wage increases.

For the final two years there will be a two per cent increase each year. The union hasn’t given any concessions to the university.

According to a press release from the provincial government, it has given no extra money to fund increases in wages.

“It’s a mixture of cost-savings and revenue generation,” Seguin said, when asked where the extra money would come from.

A press release from CUPE 4879 said a contract wasn’t signed until now because of the provincial government’s inference. The last contract ended in 2010.

“The smallest items that included any monetary element had to be sent to the government for approval,” said Lois Rugg, CUPE 4879’s president, in the release, “and then we would have to sit and wait and wait and wait for a reply from them.”

“I wouldn’t identify it as inference,” Seguin said. “We’re a public institution with a provincial mandate that we have to work within.”

The tentative contract is similar to ones proposed at other universities. CUPE Local 116 at the University of B.C. and CUPE Local 3799 at the University of Northern B.C. are both seeing no increases to their wages in the first two years followed by a increase of two per cent each year in the last two years.

CUPE 4879 said in its release it would be preparing to negotiate the next contract.

“We will be back in bargaining as early as next year for the next contract and we will be looking for whoever is in power to respect our collective bargaining process,” Rugg said.

The contract ends after the May 2013 provincial election.