Negotiation Update - September 6, 2014
On September 10 and 12th, the bargaining committees for the University and the USW will participate in mediation in an effort to negotiate a new collective agreement and avoid a strike. This follows eight previous bargaining sessions.
The University’s offer to the USW bargaining team includes wage increases and no concessions, or changes that will affect the job security of USW members.
We know members have a number of questions. As we head into mediation, we want to take this opportunity to further clarify some issues that have been raised by USW Local 4120 in public communications:
- The University has threatened the job security of USW members.
There have been no proposals from the University that would change the current job security of USW members.
- The University wants to change our pension.
There is no question that the issues surrounding pensions are the biggest ones that all universities in Ontario are facing.
Following the last round of negotiations, the University and the USW completed a study exploring the feasibility of a Jointly Sponsored Pension Plan (JSPP). This study spanned eighteen (18) months, and while the discussions were productive, the outcome of the study was that it was not feasible as consensus could not be reached on most fundamental components (e.g., dispute resolution). The Combined Report of the Joint Pension Committee (USW 4120 and the University of Guelph) can be found at /hr/staff-faculty/pensions and can be accessed using your Central Login I.D.
While the University has committed to the Union that it is prepared to further explore a more sustainable and secure pension option, in the interim it has requested that members increase their contributions to the pension plan. This request is intended to move to an equal cost sharing of only a portion of total plan costs. The University is not requesting USW local 4120 members to fund the current pension plan deficits. This proposal to USW members is no different than those made, and agreed to, by other employee groups leading up to this round of negotiations.
We are also prepared to continue discussions toward a JSPP solution that is feasible and reflects the best practices for these types of plans in the Province.We feel this is the best way towards ensuring that members have a secure pension plan when they retire.
- What is the current status of the Jointly Sponsored Pension Plan (JSPP)?
The University has committed to continue to work jointly with the USW during the term of the renewal agreement in exploring how to move to a mutually acceptable established JSPP. We believe that the interests of both the University and the union members are shared - we need to explore a long term, sustainable, realistic solutions to funding pension benefits. The University proposal does that and we believe can effectively meet our collective needs. The University however is not prepared to re-consider an option that the parties have already concluded is not feasible, or one that we believe is not acceptable to the provincial government for the purposes of achieving any permanent financial relief for its pension deficits.
- The University diverted millions on Government funding allotted for the pension plan to cover other budget expenses, resulting in shortfalls in the funding of the pension plan.
The University can confirm categorically that any funds from any source allotted for the pension funds were transferred to the plans. Put another way, no funds allotted for pensions were diverted to any other fund. The University finds this statement to be not only inaccurate but not helpful towards finding a mutually acceptable position on this very important matter.
The University values the contribution of its employees, who are a critical part of the student experience. The University remains committed to reaching a fair, affordable and realistic renewal agreement and is hopeful that the mediation process assists the parties in achieving this end, without a labour disruption. The University does not want a labour disruption; any labour disruption will come following a decision by the Union to put members on strike.