CUPE 3799 support workers reach tentative agreement at UNBC

PRINCE GEORGE — CUPE 3799 reached a tentative agreement with the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) on Thursday, June 13. The local began bargaining with UNBC in March.

“We had a great working relationship with the people at the table,” said CUPE 3799 President Caroline Sewell. “I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of the 3799 bargaining committee members, the Bargaining Information Group (BIG), and our National Servicing Representative.”

CUPE National staff representative Mitch Guitard said that a mutually respectful relationship was integral to reaching the settlement. “The employer worked really hard to reach the fair and equitable settlement that we are taking back to our members for ratification,” said Guitard.

Further details of the tentative agreement will not be available until after ratification by all parties, expected to be completed in June.  

CUPE 3799 represents approximately 420 support staff including: recruitment, registration, advising, admin support, IT and AV services, counselling and wellness, groundskeeping, facility maintenance, and much more.  CUPE members work collaboratively with Faculty and non-union staff throughout students’ university experience at UNBC.

UNBC teaching assistants vote to join CUPE

PRINCE GEORGE — Teaching assistants (TAs) at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) voted overwhelmingly to join CUPE 2278 in a Labour Board vote held on Wednesday.

The 76 TAs will now be members of the union local representing teaching assistants and English-language instructors at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

“We are so pleased to welcome these TAs into our local,” said CUPE 2278 First Vice President Gillian Glass. “After years of neglected concerns, they will be represented by a union that understands their work and their issues.”

The local will be negotiating a first collective agreement on behalf of their newest members at UNBC. They are students as well as TAs, so wages are important to their quality of life. Other important issues include hiring fairness and due process, protection from academic harm, and achieving a fair first collective agreement.

“Solidarity among TAs will help make gains for our newest members,” said CUPE 2278 President Laura Bulk. “We look forward to meeting and working with our members from UNBC.”

CUPE 3338 reaches Tentative Agreement with SFU

BURNABY – CUPE Local 3338 representing support staff at Simon Fraser University reached a tentative agreement late on Friday night, ending four long, consecutive days of bargaining.

“I’d like to thank the bargaining committee for their hard work and persistence in reaching this deal,” said CUPE 3338 President Fiona Brady Lenfesty. The groups met to bargain a dozen times in 2015.

The tentative agreement was negotiated within the tight restrictions of the Public Sector Employer’s Council (PSEC) mandate.  Details of the settlement will not be released pending ratification by CUPE 3338 members and the SFU Board of Governors.

CUPE 3338 represents more than 900 lifeguards, clerical, support, library and technical staff at Simon Fraser University’s three campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey.


UBC locals call for transparency, openness on Gupta exit


UBC locals call for transparency, openness on Gupta exit

VANCOUVER – In a joint letter to the UBC Board of Governors chair, all three presidents from CUPE locals have raised concerns about the handling of the recent departure of UBC President, Dr. Arvind Gupta.

CUPE 116 President Colleen Garbe was a member of the 22-person selection committee that included unions, faculty, alumni, management and professional staff, students and board members from both the UBC and Okanagan campuses.  The committee did a yearlong global search and made a thoughtful, informed decision collectively.

“We had selected someone — a professor, Canadian, person of colour and internal candidate – and hoped that we had someone with a different style, a breath of fresh air,” said Garbe.

But one year into a five-year term the university president, who is compensated extremely well, left all of a sudden, with no explanation from the Board.

“The public is now aware of the power this Board has to oversee one of our public institutions,” says CUPE 2950 President Karen Ranalletta. “A decision made with due process can be overturned at the stroke of the pen – by an unelected board, the majority of whom are appointed by the BC Liberals.”

Ranalletta notes that UBC is a public institution, one of the three largest research institutions in the country with a significant reputation.  As an alumnus, she says she is embarrassed.  “Where’s the accountability – not only to the public but to staff, students and faculty who make up our campus community – we deserve more than silence.”

The University will continue to pay the departing president’s salary as well as that of an interim president. The compensation for Dr. Gupta as well as the interim president’s salary, the external PR firm handling the media fallout, and the search for a new president is expected to cost millions of dollars.

CUPE 2278 President Trish Everett-Kabut says that the university is in a period of tuition increases and constant hikes to international tuition, and exorbitant increases to student fees.

“You feel like you’re being nickel and dimed to death. Then something happens with our president and suddenly the University can find millions of dollars to deal with the situation – in an age of supposed austerity,” says Everett-Kabut.

“I sure hope that money isn’t coming from anybody who attends UBC or works there – because this is not our mess to clean up,” she says.

The CUPE locals are concerned that the Board has just “accepted” his resignation and given no explanation of what has happened.  As a publicly-funded institution, the Board has a responsibility to the broader community to ensure that UBC’s reputation is “beyond reproach.”

The letter calls on the Board to clarify the real reason for Dr. Gupta’s unexpected resignation and to obey the principles of “openness, transparency and effective communication” as necessary pillars for a respected public institution.

Read the full letter here.

Read Bill Tieleman’s article in the September 1 issue of the Tyee calling for a public inquiry.



Post-secondary bargaining round-up

As the fall session begins on college campuses throughout B.C., bargaining has been completed for all College sector locals (CUPE 15, 1858, 2773, 2081, 3479 and 4951) with the exception of Vancouver Community College (CUPE 4627).

It’s a different story at universities, with some having reached agreements and others heading into or continuing bargaining this fall. University locals that have reached and ratified collective agreements are University of Northern BC (CUPE 3799), University of British Columbia (CUPE 116, 2278 and 2950) and CUPE 4163 Component 3 (Components 1 and 2 still in bargaining) at the University of Victoria.

CUPE 4879 at Thompson Rivers University has filed an application for mediation with the Labour Board. CUPE 3338 at Simon Fraser University is currently at the negotiating table and CUPE 3886 at Royal Roads University will be resuming negotiations soon.

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CUPE 2950 reaches tentative agreement

VANCOUVER – After seven months of bargaining, including four full days this week, CUPE 2950 reached a tentative collective agreement with UBC late last night. The term of the tentative agreement is April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2019.

Contract details will be released pending ratification by members at an upcoming information and ratification vote meeting, location and date to be determined.

CUPE 2950 represents library, clerical and theatre workers at UBC.

Shocking numbers tell the story: low-income students at SFU lose residence

An article in today’s Vancouver Sun about the closure of a low-income residence exposes the level of chronic underfunding at SFU with some shocking numbers.

A 2011 report found that 53 per cent of campus buildings are in “poor” condition while SFU racked up $717 million in deferred building maintenance. In 2011 the province slashed SFU’s annual $6.6-milllion capital allowance for maintenance to a mere $500,000. (It is now at $2.2 million.)

According to The Sun, SFU concedes that long-term neglect has now doomed the 50-year old Louis Riel House, a low-income family residence. The closure means that some students will be forced to give up their graduate studies. Sixty students, some with families, will need to find alternate accommodation by the end of August.

Click on “Stop the Cuts” to send a message to B.C. Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson.

Read the online article at:

UCBC launches campaign to stop cuts to post-secondary education

The Universities Coordinated Bargaining Committee is drawing attention to the BC Liberals’ abysmal record on funding post-secondary education through a public campaign that launches this week.

The campaign runs from mid-September to October and can be seen on buses, transit shelters, billboards and university campuses throughout B.C. The public is urged to visit universities to send a letter to Minister of Advanced Education, Amrik Virk.

Every single person in society benefits from post-secondary education – whether it’s receiving direct services from a trained public health professional or indirectly, such as by travelling on highways or over bridges designed by qualified engineers. A post-secondary education system that is fully funded and well-run is important to every community and every person in our province.

CUPE represents university employees whose work is as diverse in its scope as the backgrounds of the students who attend. From educators, TAs and research assistants to trades people, landscapers, support staff and technicians, we help maintain B.C.’s vibrant, diverse and high-quality universities.

CUPE members are committed to working with students and other university stakeholders to protect and enhance our public post-secondary education system. After all, post secondary education benefits us all.

Take action by clicking on the “Stop the Cuts” tab.

Website adds new links on current affairs related to sector

VANCOUVER – Members wanting more news about education sectors will notice three new items under “Other Links.”

The new links cover a CBC story on soaring tuition as a result of decreased government transfers; a new CCPA study examining tuition fees in Canada; and an opinion piece from the Prince George Citizen about taxes which argues that a decreasing tax base means there’s enough money to fully fund our K-12 education system.

CUPE 2278 hosts “We are Wisconsin” film event

CUPE 2278, Teaching Assistants at UBC, hosted a film screening and panel discussion on March 10.  They screened the film “We are Wisconsin” that documents events in Madison in early 2011 when a newly-elected Republican governor tried to destroy collective bargaining for public employees.  Panelists discussed both what happened in Wisconsin and ongoing attacks on Canadian Labour by the Harper and BC Liberal govern­ments.