Mediator appointed, university waiting for union response

- University of Victoria

The Labour Relations Board (LRB) has appointed a mediator to assist the university and CUPE 4163 (Component 3) reach agreement on the last few issues left unresolved. The union has yet to confirm with the LRB that it will participate in mediation.

Contract talks started on March 6, 2019 and continued until Aug. 8, when the union’s negotiating team declined to table a counter offer to the settlement package proposed by the university or book future negotiation dates. Only a few issues are unresolved and the university is confident that a mediator can assist both parties reach an agreement.

The university requested mediation services Aug. 9 and the LRB assigned a mediator on Aug. 12.

The union has a strike mandate after 84 members voted in favour of a strike. When the vote was taken in late July, 219 members were eligible to cast ballots and 91 voted. The union applied Aug. 1  to the LRB to designate essential services, which is a precursor to job action. The university is working with the LRB on determining essential services.

The university is committed to reaching a new collective agreement as quickly as possible that addresses the needs of our employees in a reasonable and responsible manner and to avoid any disruption that CUPE’s job action could have on students, faculty and other staff. 

We believe sessional Instructors are an important part of the University of Victoria workforce and, in their capacity, contribute meaningfully to the learning experience of our students.  Over the course of an academic year, the university employs up to 800 sessional instructors and music performance instructors represented by CUPE 4163 (Comp 3).

We believe that a mediator can assist both parties to reach agreement on the last few issues on the table.

Most monetary issues are not in dispute.  The university has offered the same salary increases offered to and accepted by nearly 2,000 other unionized staff, faculty and librarians at UVic  and over 226,000 unionized public sector employees in the province—the maximum salary increases available under the provincial government’s  Sustainable Services Negotiations Mandate.  Further, the union has sought and the university has offered the same benefit plans as other CUPE employees on campus.

CUPE’s remaining requests cost more than what is allowed under the financial mandate approved by the provincial government for all public sector employers. These include doubling the severance formula for continuing sessional instructors and increasing the number of continuing sessional instructors by over 70%.

The university’s settlement package tabled Aug. 8  improved the current severance formula, adjusted the union’s proposal for continuing sessional status to improve job security for term and continuing sessional instructors, and agreed to the union’s proposal for the appointment of term sessional—all within the bounds of the mandate required by the province. Updates will continue to be posted to the UVic bargaining website