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October 25, 2012

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CUPE support workers reach deal at UNBC

PRINCE GEORGE—CUPE Local 3799 workers have a tentative new collective agreement with the University of Northern British Columbia. The deal was reached late Tuesday and must still be ratified by both sides.

The no-concessions agreement includes two percent wage increases in each of the final two years. The first two years have no wage increases, in keeping with the provincial government’s Net Zero Mandate for public sector workers in 2010 and 2011. The agreement will run until June 30, 2014.

The agreement contains improvements to contract language including a seniority improvement for longtime regular casual-term employees, a vacation extension for workers with 20+ years and an annual seat for CUPE employees in the MBA program.

The more than 300 CUPE workers at UNBC launched job action three weeks ago to pressure the university and the province to get back to the bargaining table with serious proposals and a mandate to sign an agreement. The union instituted an overtime ban and picketed the Prince George campus.

CUPE Local 3799 president Caroline Sewell called it a "long round of talks made longer by the provincial government."

"We have had a good relationship with the management of the university on campus and we have maintained that throughout these negotiations," says Sewell. The issue we had was with government. We waited for more than a week to get a response." Sewell said the sticking point was reportedly not even the government's own Public Sector Employers' Council, but the ministers of education and finance.

"The union and the university were left waiting for more than a week to get final approval from the minister so management could present their monetary package. We negotiated our non-monetary items ages ago so we felt like we were no longer bargaining with management."

A similar deal was reached this week with CUPE support workers at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. 


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