“CUPE 1975 has repeatedly requested an in-person meeting with the University of Saskatchewan’s Board of Governors to discuss bargaining. Our requests for a meeting with both the Board of Governors, and the President of the University, Peter Stoicheff, have once again been denied,” said Craig Hannah, President of CUPE Local 1975. “The lack of engagement from the senior leadership of the university is concerning, as it seems they may not be fully invested in reaching a deal and avoiding job action.”
Talks broke down last month between the union and the university. Wages and pensions are the outstanding issues. The employer has put forward a proposal to eliminate the current Defined Benefit Plan and replace it with an inferior Defined Contribution or Target Benefit Plan. In addition, they are proposing a five-year wage offer of 0-0-0-2%-2% and a signing bonus of either $1,500 or $3,000.
“In our view, CUPE 1975 is the only party at the table that is working towards a bargaining resolution. The university has been recycling the same inadequate pension proposals for over a decade, while CUPE keeps offering innovative and reasonable solutions that would save the university millions of dollars,” added Hannah. “And to add insult to injury, the university leadership is even refusing to meet with us to discuss our proposals.
In December 2018, CUPE proposed a major reworking of the pension plan into a jointly-sponsored pension plan, which would reduce the university’s cost and risk, while sharing plan decision making with the workers. Similar frameworks have been adopted recently in the university sector across Canada.
“Our members are already some of the lowest paid employees at the U of S, and the work we do literally keeps the university running. Our pension plan pays an average of just $18,000 per year to retirees. The plan as a whole costs just 1% of the university’s budget. We deserve a modest and secure retirement after a career of service to the university,” said Hannah. “CUPE does not feel like all of the avenues for negotiations have been fully explored. To this end, CUPE would like to call publicly for the University of Saskatchewan’s Board of Governors to meet with us to seek a resolution to this issue.
CUPE 1975 has written a public brief directed to the Board of Governors:
- Talks break down as U of S tables 3 year wage freeze and removal of retirement security for CUPE members
- Unprecedented move by U of S will see workers lose the right to determine the terms of their own pensions
- Local 1975 votes in favour of job action over pension issues at the University of Saskatchewan
- CUPE Local 1975 says “Paws off our pensions” to the U of S and files for impasse