University bargaining with URFA, CUPE
author: kristian ferguson | news editor
You gotta fight for your right to strike / jeremy davis
Collective agreements have run out for both unions
The University of Regina has had the collective agreements for the major employee organizations on campus, both the University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 2419, run out.
URFA’s collective agreement ran out in June of 2017 and CUPE’s ran out at some point in 2016. The length of time it has taken for the university to organize a new agreement that the organizations will sign has caused tensions to flare.
URFA recently voted in favour of a strike mandate with over 85 per cent of the ballots cast being in agreement. CUPE is organizing a rally for Nov. 21 to protest potentiality of wage freezes that were put forward by the university.
In a press release provided to the Carillon, URFA indicated that the university had not been bargaining in good faith.
“Throughout the bargaining process, university management has made proposals that contradict the University of Regina’s mission statement of ‘offering a welcoming and rewarding academic and work environment for students, faculty, and staff,’” said Faculty Association President Sylvain Rheault in the provided release.
“With this strike mandate, we can return to the table and negotiate a collective agreement that recognizes and values the crucial role that our members play in supporting students at this university.”
They also wanted to make it clear that this would not immediately result in an interruption of classes for students as “several bargaining dates are scheduled, and students can expect to finish the fall semester without interruption.”
The University of Regina Students’ Union [URSU] also released a statement in support of the strike mandate vote.
“The lack of investment in students and faculty seeks to erode the very economic and democratic foundations of our province,” said the press release.
Maddie Ouellette, a student at the University of Regina, was concerned about the university’s reputation.
“If U of R gets their way, the CFLS program is in danger of losing half of it’s teaching staff and the worry is that the next person to come in won’t be nearly as good,” said Ouellette. “It’ll be hard to find professionals who will want to teach at the U of R and may put the program at risk for losing its credibility as well.”
Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, was worried about what would happen if the agreement were to go through how the university had proposed it.
“I understand the importance of negotiations and proper pay, lots of sessional profs make very little. Even my union (SGEU) is working on negotiations. Trust me, not all public servants are rolling in it, that’s very few of us.”
“I remember a sessional that taught Japanese languages left and made more money as a city bus driver. He had a family to support.”
CUPE similarly published a press release to raise awareness of the aforementioned rally entitled “Freeze Tuition, Not Wages”.
“Our proposals at the bargaining table include protecting the role of seniority, significant wage increases, a tuition waiver, student health benefits rebate, and more,” stated the release.
“The power of our union is that we do the work that makes teaching and research possible on campus. We have power in numbers when we unite with a common goal. We need our members to stay informed and get engaged to make gains at bargaining table.”