GUELPH, Ontario – Hundreds of University of Guelph employees, members of the United Steelworkers union (USW), will earn wage increases of 9.5% over the term of a collective agreement that sheds unconstitutional restrictions on collective bargaining previously imposed by Doug Ford’s Conservative government.
The university’s 885 administrative and technical staff, members of USW Local 4120, achieved wage increases and other gains in the new contract that will be in effect until April 30, 2025. Union members ratified the contract yesterday, Jan. 18.
University employees were among hundreds of thousands of workers in Ontario’s broader public sector who were affected by Bill 124, passed by the Ford government to impose a 1% cap on compensation increases. However, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently struck down Bill 124, ruling it was unconstitutional and infringed on workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
The new collective agreement for USW Local 4120 members calls for an immediate wage increase of 2.25%, followed by a 3.5% increase on May 1 this year and a 3.75% raise on May 1, 2024. The contract improves benefits and recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an additional paid holiday.
“Our members were committed to exercising our rights to free and fair collective bargaining. Given cost-of-living increases, these wage gains are crucial in helping our members make up for lost ground due to the Ontario government’s unconstitutional legislation,” said USW Local 4120 President John Tartt.
“However, a single contract cannot address the chronic underfunding of post-secondary education in Ontario, which adversely affects students and workers, particularly the younger generation,” Tartt noted.
“A survey we conducted found that 40% of our members, mostly younger workers, needed a second job to get by, even though they have a full-time position at a university. That’s wrong, and it speaks very clearly to the underfunding of higher education by Doug Ford’s government,” he said.
“For more than three years, far too many of our members and other working people across Ontario have suffered real income losses as a result of their wages being unfairly and illegally suppressed,” said USW Ontario Director Myles Sullivan.
“I congratulate our members at USW Local 4120 for standing up, reclaiming their rights to meaningful collective bargaining and achieving a good contract,” Sullivan said.
The USW represents 225,000 members in nearly every economic sector across Canada and is the largest private-sector union in North America, with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.
Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW because of our strong track record in creating healthier, safer and more respectful workplaces and negotiating better working conditions and fairer compensation – including good wages, benefits and pensions.
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