A deadline loomed over the heads of Brock University administration and CUPE 4207-Unit 1 employees on March 2. The two parties had spent months negotiating a new collective agreement with the previous deal expiring on September 6, 2016.
Back in January, 72 per cent of the union voted in favour of a strike in the event that the two sides would not make significant movement towards a new deal. The union received a ‘no board’ report from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour in mid-February, stating they could legally strike a minute after midnight on March 3.
With the deadline only days away and both parties still far apart on talks, the sides met with a mediator on Mar. 1 to help the negotiations progress. Negotiations would carry over into the next day as Brock administration and CUPE 4207-Unit 1 met in Thistle 255 at Brock, once again with a mediator. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m., and as expected no updates were provided to the public, creating a stir among students at Brock as the clock struck 12:01 a.m.
CUPE 4207-Unit 1 consists of the following employees at Brock: Instructors, Teaching Assistants, Lab Demonstrators, Graders/Markers and Course Coordinators. Had a strike proceeded, students would be affected with seminars, labs, midterms and assignment deadlines.
At 1:50 a.m. the university announced the two sides had come to a tentative agreement at 1:30 a.m. on Mar. 3, avoiding a strike.
The Brock Press reached out to both sides late last week, but the parties declined to comment until the deal was ratified. Brock Interim-President Tom Traves said in an email that The Board of Trustees will be briefed on the settlement sometime this week. CUPE 4207 President Phil Wachel said the union intends to hold Ratification Meetings on March 15 and 16. Two meetings will be held to accommodate teaching schedules.
The details of the agreement will not be released until both sides have voted to ratify the deal.
On their website CUPE 4207 stated the following bargaining issues: pay, guaranteed tuition assistance, job security, health plan/benefits and statutory holiday. The website also states that there are about 1,000 Unit 1 members and approximately half are graduate students.
The last time the two parties came close to a strike was in 2015, when Brock and CUPE 4207-Unit 3 (ESL instructors) came to an agreement only days before the strike deadline. During these negotiations the two sides also had to meet with mediator.
The next collective agreement to expire among Brock employees is with the IATSE union (theatre technicians, head of wardrobe, technical director, theatre technical production assistant, production runners, stagehands and wardrobe assistants). The deal will expire on June 5 of this year. Brock University Faculty Association (faculty and professional librarians) deal will also expire this year on June 30.
For more information on the deal between Brock and CUPE 4207-Unit 1 keep checking brockpress.com.