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Campus unions stand in support of CUPE 2692

Letter to the Editor of the Western News from CUPE 2361, IUOE 772, OPSEU PSAC 610, UWOFA and UWOSA dated March 21, 2013

We are disappointed to learn how our fellow union members, CUPE 2692 (Food Services), are being treated by administration during their current round of collective bargaining. CUPE 2692, like any other group of employees on campus, deserves the respect of the administration. They deserve a fair bargaining process. To date, they have received neither.

The fact administration has requested a conciliator from the Ministry of Labour after only three days at the bargaining table is contemptible enough. That administration decided to communicate this to the campus community at large before CUPE 2692 had the opportunity to communicate it to its own members is extremely disrespectful.

However, after learning what some of administration’s proposals are, we are appalled. Not only has administration proposed no wage increase for the next two years, but they have asked for significant concessions, saying “concession bargaining is now in order.” This hard-line attitude is unacceptable from an organization with a multi-million dollar reserve which continues to annually raise tuition fees for students. It is interesting to note other employee groups on campus have recently negotiated contracts with wage increases until 2015.

Administration has also proposed to drastically cut the sick leave provision for CUPE 2692 workers. Making it difficult for employees to be off sick means employees are more likely to come into work when they are sick, thereby prolonging their illness or injury and possibly infecting their co-workers and other members of the campus community. If this is the true position of administration, Occupational Health and Safety might want to re-think the poster campaign around campus that states: “Sick? In bed? Wise decision.”

According to the Working at Western website, “Western offers an enriching and supportive work environment.” It is certainly not enriching to offer zero wage increases for two years when the cost of living continues to rise. Also, the punishment of sick and/or injured employees hardly constitutes a supportive work environment.

CUPE 2692 has entered into collective bargaining in good faith. Given administration has called for a conciliator so early in the process, it seems unlikely that CUPE 2692’s proposals were given fair consideration. It is our sincere hope when the talks resume, administration will re-evaluate its proposals and approach collective bargaining with fairness and respect. We will accept nothing less.

Sincerely,

CUPE 2361 (Facilities Management)
IUOE 772 (Operating Engineers)
OPSEU
PSAC 610 (Graduating Teaching Assistants and Postdocs)
UWOFA (University of Western Ontario Faculty Association)
UWOSA (University of Western Ontario Staff Association)