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  cupe logo                                                           Snap Shot of Collective Bargaining

Labour Relations Law:

  • Most workplaces in BC are covered by BC Employment Standards Act or in the case of unionized workplaces by the BC Labour Relations Code;
  • Most of the workers at universities in British Columbia are unionized;
  • BC Labour Relations Board is an administrative tribunal with the mandate to mediate and adjudicate employment and labour relations matters related to unionized workplaces;
  • BC Labour Relations Code governs unionized workplaces and provides the regulations for unionization, fair collective bargaining, union’s duty of fair representation and other labour related issues;
  • Canada Labour Code only applies to specific industries such as Telecommunications, transportation, Federal employees and some others;


Quick Background:

  • Post war (1950s and 60s) in BC was packed with turbulent Labour Relations and endless strikes under a Social Credit government;
  • A short term NDP government replaced the Mediation Commission and Labour Relations Act with the BCLRB and the BC Labour Relations code in 1973 which has remained relatively unchanged although there have been changes to particular areas of the code leaning more toward labour and back again toward business today.


CUPE 4163 Preparation for Bargaining Process:

  • canvasses concerns that have risen since previous bargaining and canvasses members for ideas about what to propose at the bargaining table
  • CUPE 4163 participates in University Coordinated Bargaining Committee (UCBC) by sharing bargaining objectives and coordinating proposals where appropriate, with other University CUPE locals
  • Members are surveyed electronically to get a sense of concern related to areas of the collective agreement;
  • Individual components use various methods to communicate with membership getting a sense of members priorities for bargaining
  • Bargaining committee fine tunes bargaining proposals for exchange with employer.


 The Negotiation Process:

  • CUPE4163 and UVic exchange proposals for bargaining (in the same meeting) and agree that no new proposals can be brought to the table once the exchange has been made;
  • Other rules such as not negotiating in the press; protocols are established before bargaining continues;
  • As a matter of law, the University has authority to manage everything related to working conditions and wages with the only exceptions being those items that are collectively bargained or contained in law, in which case the collective agreement applies;
  • The parties go back and forth exchanging proposals and revised proposals sometimes reaching agreement and sometimes at impasse (this can take several weeks/months);
  • The parties at negotiations are only representatives of their principles; the component union membership and the University Board of Governors have to ratify any agreement before it can be implemented;
  • During the bargaining process, the parties at the bargaining table continue to monitor their principles positions on various issues to be sure that movement made at the bargaining table is going to be acceptable to their principles;
  • Often the use of a Mediator (process identified in the BC Labour Code) can be helpful to get the parties to a place where a settlement can be reached;
  • When the parties don’t reach agreement there can be a strike (on the part of the union membership) or a lock out (on the part of the employer);
  • The purpose of a strike vote (to say the bargaining unit is prepared to strike if required) and / or a strike is to pressure the other side into moving their position at the bargaining table and conversely the purpose of a Lock Out on the part of the employer; both processes are ultimately tools which are sometimes used to get to a place in bargaining where a settlement can be reached.


How Free is Free Collective Bargaining for members of CUPE4163?

  • As with many other sectors “there is safety in numbers”. Together CUPE members prepared to take a stand to improve their wages and working conditions would send a strong message to the Employer during bargaining;
  • Free collective bargaining is hampered by the existence of the Public Sector Employer’s Council (PSEC) which dictates the government bargaining mandate. There is a PSEC requirement that Employers, including UVic, who are funded or partially funded by government, not exceed the mandate. The current PSEC mandated settlements are 5.5% increase over a 5 year contract with no increase in the first year of the contract;
  • The pattern for public sector employees in BC has been set, as above, by settlements reached in other sectors (Health, Teachers, BC Government Employees, etc);
  • UVic has suggested at bargaining tables with other unions, that the ability for the university to sign off 5.5% over 5 years is tied to finding savings in the current collective agreement (concessions); Other unions have not had the wage increase tied to concession(s).


What is happening now?

  • Component 3 canvassing dates with employer to resume bargaining which started in May;
  • Comp 3 members will receive updates as the process continues;
  • Res Life (new addition to Comp ½ agreement) canvassing dates to resume bargaining which started in May;
  • Res Life members will receive updates as the process continues;
  • Comp 1 /2 The Collective Agreement expired August 31, 2014;
  • Bargaining Committees have been formed for Component 1 and Component 2;
  • Proposals are being developed;
  • Component 1 and 2 share one collective agreement, however, for the majority of the process they bargain language separately and component specific;
  • Dates are being coordinated through the CUPE National Representative, with the employer for the bargaining process to begin for Component 1 / 2;
  • CUPE4163 continues to coordinate bargaining with the University Coordinated Bargaining Committee (CUPE local unions at Universities throughout BC);


CUPE 4163 is made up of people working in the following positions:

Component 1 = Teaching Assistants, Lab Assistants, Lab Instructors, Research and Academic Assistants not paid for under externally funded special purpose grants or employment contracts, athletic assistants, supervisors – sports camps, non-PEA computers and others;

Component 2 = Second Language Instructors, Cultural Assistants, Residence Life positions;

Component 3 = Sessional Lecturers and Music Performance Instructors .


UPCOMING: Semi Annual General Meeting: October 31, 2014

1:30pm Cornett B135

ALL MEMBERS WELCOME!      250-472-4778             250-853-3863