Queen’s University support workers ratify first collective agreement

More than 90 per cent of workers vote in favour of deal

Administrative and support staff at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., have ratified their first collective agreement, according to the United Steelworkers.

The union represents about 1,100 employees at the university who are members of USW Local 2010.

"This vote represents the start of a new chapter in the working lives of staff at Queen's," said Omero Landi, USW staff representative and the union's chief spokesperson during the talks.

"This solid first agreement, arrived at during challenging economic times, was achieved with broad membership involvement and support. The members were well represented by their elected bargaining committee. As well, both the union and the university approached these talks with respect for the process and for the other side," said Landi.

Voting took place over three days: Aug. 1, 2 and 7. More than 65 per cent of the membership took part in the vote and just over 90 per cent of ballots were cast in favour of the agreement, the union said.

"We bargain hundreds of contracts across Ontario every year," said Wayne Fraser, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada. "Reaching a first agreement is a challenge and a big achievement, especially in a complex workplace like Queen's University. This is not only a good first agreement for Queen's staff, it also sets a foundation for the future."

Collective bargaining between the USW and the university began in November 2011. The union and the university reached a tentative first collective agreement on July 5. Staff reviewed the details of the agreement during membership meetings in mid-July.

According to the union, the new agreement provides for consistency in the terms and conditions of employment at Queen's, better job security, conversion rights for staff employed on a term basis, a process to build an effective job evaluation plan, annual pay increases, an effective way for staff concerns and complaints to be resolved, improved overtime rights and other improvements.

In addition to the Queen's staff membership, the USW represents almost 7,000 other university staff employees working at the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto and its federated colleges Victoria University and the University of St. Michael's College.

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