CUPE 926, which represents all regular workers within Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Physical Resources, is currently in difficult negotiations with the university administration. The employer is seeking to outsource cleaning work on campus, replacing good full-time custodial positions with low-paying precarious jobs. The employer also set a deadline after which they would impose terms and conditions of work. This is why the CUPE 926 members are now on strike.
OCUFA and its members across Ontario stand in solidarity with CUPE 926 in their fight for good jobs. Last week, OCUFA President Judy Bates sent the following message to Max Blouw, President of Laurier:
On behalf of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the 17,000 full-time and contract university professors and academic librarians we represent at 28 member associations across the province of Ontario, I am writing to urge you to return to the bargaining table with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 926, negotiate in good faith, and reach a fair deal.
The custodians, groundskeepers, and tradespeople who are members of CUPE Local 926 do important work that keeps Wilfrid Laurier University running. Threatening to impose a contract, while publicly discussing contracting out the jobs of the workers you are ostensibly negotiating with, is an excessively aggressive approach to bargaining.
If continued, this bullying tactic will place Wilfrid Laurier University in a small group of rogue employers in the university sector. Terms and conditions have been imposed on academic workers only twice at Ontario universities. In both cases, the imposition of a contract did irreparable damage to labour relations at the institution, and harmed the reputation of the universities among their peers. Faculty at universities across Ontario have condemned this approach to bargaining wherever it has occurred.
OCUFA is aware that bargaining is also underway with our contract faculty colleagues at Wilfrid Laurier University. We expect a respectful and fair approach to bargaining across the university sector and hope that you will commit to upholding this standard when negotiating with all employee groups on your campus.
A recent public opinion poll found that 94 per cent of Ontarians expect universities to be model employers in their communities. Now is a time to support more good jobs for Ontarians, not fewer. Faculty across the province support workers at Wilfrid Laurier University in their effort to defend good jobs. We hope that you will reconsider your approach to this issue and work with them to come to a fair settlement.
Judy Bates, President, OCUFA
If you would like to send your own message of support, please visit the CUPE 926 website.