Three CUPE locals at Queen's University have reached agreements looking to improve parental leave and overall job security for members.
Bargaining from earlier in the month has now been ratified by members and the university, finalizing a new agreement for over 400 members working at Queen's.
The agreement includes Queen's library technicians of Local 1302, trades, custodial, residence and recreation staff represented by Local 229, and technicians servicing teaching and research labs of Local 254.
Negotiations to reach an agreement began in June of 2021, with each of the sessions coundicting at least one day with the assistance of a provincially appointed conciliator.
In a release last week, bargaining teams said restrictions from Bill 124 forced negotiations to be focused on elements aside from raising compensation.
“Bargaining is never easy, and Bill 124 complicated our bargaining team’s efforts to win a pay increase more in line with inflation for our members,” said Local 254 President Marie Edwards.
"But we are immensely proud of the work we’ve done here. There are no concessions in the agreements our members ratified, and we will see some important changes that will improve our working conditions.”
Bill 124 was enacted in 2019, and caps increase to wages and other compensation at 1%.
This bill has also been cited as a challenge in negotiations between the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
The three Locals at Queen's will instead see changes to pregnancy and parental leave and a guarantee that the university will provide equity data to the union.
The negotiating groups focused on improving equity in the work environment, and 1302 President Kim Bell says that will be a continued focus in the future.
“Increases to the parental leave offered to birth mothers are a key step in creating a more equitable workplace that does not punish women for having children,” Bell said.
“We look forward to improving on this front even more in the years to come.”
The release also states that Local 229 negotiations ensured that an existing provision against contracting-out members’ work to non-union workers remained in place and have added 26 new full-time positions.
The new agreements with each group will run retroactively from July 1st, 2021.
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News