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November 29, 2012

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SFU rejects chance to settle with striking support workers

CUPE 3338 members pack the plaza at SFU today (see photos) to push for meaningful negotiations.

BURNABY  - A CUPE-initiated mediation aimed at getting a collective agreement for SFU's 1,000 CUPE support workers fell apart in less than an hour today.

The meeting with mediator Vince Ready ended when SFU again refused to bargain in good faith with CUPE 3338. This despite SFU recently reaching a new collective agreement with its teaching assistants. At issue is the university linking its pension plan problems to collective bargaining.

The SFU administration clings to the position that CUPE must somehow fix the ailing SFU Pension Plan ($64.5 million in the hole at last count) before it is willing to negotiate a collective agreement with its CUPE employees. The Pension Plan is a multi-party plan that can only be changed by all the players, including ASPA, Poly Party, CUPE and SFU.  CUPE has repeatedly assured SFU that it will do everything it can to help the university out of its pension crisis - but only after collective bargaining has concluded and only with the other pension plan participants.

Earlier today, the SFU Employees' Joint Pension Committee (EJPC) pulled out of further pension plan talks saying "the university administration's insistence on dove-tailing the pension plan negotiations with individual employee group's contract/agreement negotiations is leading to a stalemate situation and is the key impediment to resolving the current labour unrest at Simon Fraser University. The EJPC believes that without redress this unrest will only worsen, negatively and needlessly impacting the University's employees, its students and ultimately itself."

"CUPE workers should not be held to ransom because of problems SFU has with the administration of its Pension Plan," explains CUPE BC Universities Coordinator Tracey Mathieson. She added that in the face of SFU's refusal to settle, "our only alternative is escalating job action to try to get the university to do the right thing - and at some point that is bound to impact students."

The CUPE support workers have been without a contract for 2½ years and are the only CUPE university workers in the province without a new collective agreement. Every other university negotiated no-concessions, four-year deal with modest two-per-cent wage increases in each of the final two years. All those agreements have now been ratified.

CUPE has filed a bad faith bargaining complaint against SFU and a hearing has been set for Dec. 17 before the BC Labour Relations Board.

CUPE 3338 members at SFU include clerical workers, computer operators, library assistants, technicians, lifeguards, financial aid advisors, building technologists, programmer analysts, buyers, stores clerks, information specialists, control clerks, department resource specialists, maintenance schedulers and programmers.


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