While many locals in  the University Sector would say their employers make it difficult to bargain, the Labour Relations Board has  ruled that that is actually the case at Simon Fraser University. The decision that SFU breached the BC Labour Code was handed down January 21.

The members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3338 have been without a contract for close to three years. SFU is the only university in the province that has not negotiated in good faith to a new collective agreement with its CUPE support workers.

The bad faith bargaining decision refers to university attempts to tie CUPE bargaining for a collective agreement to fixing problems the university has with its pension plan (reportedly more than $64.5 million in the red). The decision by the BC Labour Relations Board concludes that “the university’s attempt to keep the Pension Plan on the bargaining table at this time is a breach of…the Code.”

“In light of this decision, we look forward to getting back to the bargaining table – this time for a contract,” says CUPE BC universities coordinator Tracy Mathieson. “Our calendars are open and we are ready to meet.”

CUPE 3338 president Lynne Fowler says the decision “is a vindication for our members and our bargaining committee – we have waited too long for a contract – that’s the message to SFU in this decision.”

The SFU Pension Plan is a multi-party plan that can only be changed by all the participants, including other unions and staff associations.  Those players all pulled out of pension talks late last year saying they would only discuss the pension once they had negotiated collective agreements. CUPE has repeatedly assured SFU that it will do everything it can to help the university out of its pension crisis – but only after collective bargaining has concluded and only with the other plan participants.

CUPE 3338 members at SFU include clerical workers, computer operators, library assistants, technicians, lifeguards, financial aid advisors, building technologists, programmer analysts, buyers, stores clerks, information specialists, control clerks, department resource specialists, maintenance schedulers and programmers.

Read the full decision: SFU LRB Decision Jan 2013