Flags were waving and pamphlets were handed out, but it wasn’t a strike, as Royal Roads University (RRU) Canadian Union of Public Employees members gathered last Thursday to spread information about their bargaining woes.
Members of CUPE Local 3886 formed two picket lines during their lunch hour at the university to distribute information about the union’s current bargaining concerns. Handing out decals, information pamphlets and small first aid kits reading “No more Band-Aid solutions. Budget cuts hurt us all,” the members spoke to passing students and staff to raise awareness of the situation.
The move comes in support of province-wide job action by CUPE members in the university sector, including members at the University of Victoria who have been involved in job action since Sept. 5. Members at Simon Fraser University, the University of Northern B.C., Thompson Rivers University and the University of British Columbia also served notice to the Labour Relations Board and were expected to picket last Thursday.
Local 3886 president Paul Allison said the union’s primary concerns are the government cutting funds for education and the union’s difficulty in negotiating a wage increase and increased job security.
“That’s what we’re asking for, fair wages,” Allison said.
Although the union will not give specific numbers, it says members are seeking a wage increase to reflect the increase in the cost of living, along with increased job security.
The union has been without a collective agreement since 2010 due to prolonged negotiations.
CUPE workers at RRU voted 96 per cent in favour of a strike should bargaining not move forward. Talks were set to continue yesterday (Oct. 9). The union must give 72-hour notice before any strike.
“We’re hopeful that we’re going to be able to resolve things at the table, rather than at the picket line,” Allison said. “We’re almost there. I’m hoping that in the next couple of weeks we can sit down and just hash it out, because nobody wants to see any strike action.”
Allison said the province’s recent agreement with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union gives CUPE hope an agreement can be reached.
The 62 members of the union include custodial staff, gardeners, housekeepers, production workers, maintenance and other works at RRU. Allison said the union’s slogan for its action is “This university works because we do.”
“We do our part and we just want fair wages in response to that,” Allison said.
Members of the Royal Road Faculty Association were also at the information session to show support for CUPE.