BURNABY – Striking CUPE support workers have reached a tentative agreement with Simon Fraser University. The settlement comes after more than three years without a contract for the 1,000 members of CUPE Local 3338.
The tentative agreement is a four-year, no concessions deal with two-percent wage increases in each of the final two years (the first two years fell under the provincial government’s Zero Mandate prohibiting wage increases for public-sector workers). The SFU terms are in line with settlements reached at every other university and community college in the province. SFU is the last public post-secondary institution to settle with its CUPE employees, and the new contract will expire next March.
Negotiations were hampered by the administration’s insistence on keeping problems it has with its pension plan tied to collective bargaining. That was deemed bad faith bargaining by the BC Labour Relations Board, a decision upheld despite a lengthy appeal by SFU. CUPE has consistently assured SFU that it will address problems with the SFU Pension Plan at the multi-party pension table. CUPE 3338 Bargaining Committee spokesperson Ross Idler credits that consistency with restarting the stalled talks and finally getting to a deal. “We have been saying all along that it’s in everyone’s interest to improve the pension plan,” says Ross,”and now we can work with our pension partners to make that happen.”
Frustrated by the lack of progress, CUPE 3338 served strike notice on Oct. 1, 2012. Over the next eight months, workers held a full shutdown of all three SFU campuses, rotating strikes, study sessions and overtime bans in an effort to get SFU back to the table to negotiate.
CUPE 3338 president Lynne Fowler called today’s announcement “testament to the determination of our members – we never gave up and we never backed down.”
The agreement must still be ratified by both sides. Ratification votes for CUPE members will be as soon as possible.