BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 4, 2012) - CUPE university support workers across BC sent a clear message to their employers today - let's make a deal. The 12,000 workers took job action after more than two years of fruitless contract talks.
Workers at BC's five largest universities walked off the job today in actions ranging from overtime bans to rallies, marches, picket lines and a full fledged shutdown at UNBC in Prince George. Job actions started after CUPE locals at the University of Northern BC, Simon Fraser, UBC and Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops all filed 72-hour strike notice on Monday. Locals at UVic have been carrying out job actions since Sept. 4.
CUPE BC president Barry O'Neill told a midday crowd of CUPE 116 workers at UBC that the union will back them "for as long as it takes" to get a deal. He called on the province to stop cutting post secondary funding and to recognize the value of the work done by CUPE members. CUPE 116 president Colleen Garbe called for talks now. CUPE 116 workers shutdown the UBC SUB and took out the Plant Operations building.
At UNBC 340 members of CUPE local 3799 were on hand to shut down the entire campus with pickets at the main entrance starting at 1 pm this afternoon. CUPE 3799 president Caroline Sewell said support was good from the faculty association and other unions including ICBC workers and City of Prince George workers. Sewell says morale was high on the picket line "as were hopes that this will help get us back to the table."
At SFU the strike started with two buildings being shut down. Members launched a silent protest outside convocation. CUPE 3338 members wearing placards turned their backs in a protest designed to get the message across without disrupting the convocation. CUPE 3338 president Lynne Fowler says the action was well received and "people really got the message that SFU needs to 'engage' with its CUPE support staff."
Thompson Rivers CUPE staff closed down their facilities building then headed to the central Clocktower for a march and rally. CUPE 4879 president Lois Rugg said her members were "pumped." Rugg says at least 200 took part. "Our members haven't felt like they have been taken seriously - some are living paycheque to paycheque," says Rugg. "I think the university got our message."
Picket lines by CUPE 917 and 951 members at UVic wound down this afternoon after news of the employer requesting more bargaining dates next week. CUPE 4163, which represents teaching assistants and sessionals was on hand all day with support pickets.