Employees of the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) have reaffirmed their commitment to CUPE in a unanimous vote at the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board, but URSU is still throwing up roadblocks.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1486 has represented employees of the University of Regina Students’ Union for over four decades. Recently the URSU board of directors withdrew its voluntary recognition of the local in the midst of bargaining, forcing the issue to a vote at the Labour Relations Board.
“We are not surprised that our membership clearly saw the benefits of unionization, but we continue to be surprised by how unfairly URSU is treating us,” said Neil Petrich, president of the local. “URSU’s response to our democratic vote has been to allude that CUPE will need to start over and negotiate a first collective agreement.”
“CUPE and URSU worked together to develop this collective agreement for decades,” said Suzanne Posyniak, the CUPE national representative assigned to the local. “It is offensive to suggest that employees may lose most of their hard earned benefits, such as recall by seniority, health and dental benefits, and on the job training.”
CUPE has filed an unfair labour practice application with the Labour Relations Board challenging this assertion as well as URSU’s exclusion of supervisors.
At the board hearing, Carl Flis, general manager of URSU, refused to agree to Owl supervisors being included in the same bargaining unit with the rest of the employees, even though URSU had previously signed an irrevocable election to keep supervisors in the bargaining unit. Therefore, the Labour Relations Board has created two bargaining units represented by CUPE – one for supervisors and one for other employees.
“The employer’s decision to keep supervisors out of an all employee unit is anti-democratic and anti-union. CUPE will continue to pressure URSU through legal and public means to agree to one union local for all its employees,” said Posyniak.
The application will be heard by the Labour Relations Board on December 19-21, 2016. In the meantime, CUPE is urging URSU to get back to the bargaining table.
“When URSU revoked voluntary recognition of CUPE, URSU said it wanted its employees to have a choice. Employees have chosen CUPE,” said Petrich. “The employer has no more excuses to delay bargaining. URSU needs to return to the bargaining table with a reasonable approach and conclude a fair collective agreement with its workers, members of CUPE Local 1486.”