Deadline looms for union

Custodians and technicians could be in a strike or lockout

Three locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) could be in a legal strike or lockout position as early as July 29 after Queen’s administration filed a No Board Report on July 6.

The report, which marks a 17-day countdown until a strike or lockout can legally occur, was issued by the Ontario Ministry of Labour on July 12. The union represents approximately 421 library, research and classroom technicians as well as custodians.

Donna Carlaw is the national representative for all three locals and said three mediation days are scheduled before the July 29 deadline.

“The parties are at quite a distance apart,” she said.

While CUPE is trying to focus on issues of job security and wages at the bargaining table, Carlaw said Queen’s administration remains focused on resolving pension plan contributions.

“We’re looking for a salary grid increase across the board,” Carlaw said.

On July 12, CUPE called a strike mandate meeting. In order for a union to legally strike after a No Board Report has been filed, they require the support of at least 51 per cent of voters. Ninety-eight per cent of voters supported the strike mandate. Seventy per cent of members voted.

“I think it’s a wonderful show of support to the bargaining team,” she said.

Although each local represents a different sector of employees at Queen’s, several issues have been bargained together—something Carlaw said was a good show of solidarity.

If a strike or lockout occurs, all the work union members perform would come to a halt.

“We need to be ready,” Carlaw said, adding that CUPE is organizing its members for the picket line.

“We’re not sure what the University [administration] is going to do,” she said.

Ellie Sadinsky, Queen’s director of communications, said the University respects the collective bargaining process.

“We’re very much focused on negotiating [a] settlement,” she said.

Sadinsky said the July 29 deadline is only a deadline because it’s the first date a strike or lockout could legally occur. “It doesn’t mean anything is going to happen at that time,” she said.

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