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USW Local 1998 celebrates 25 years as the USW’s first local union in university sector

August 18, 2023
The image is of 5 people standing side by side, indoors. There is a table in front of them with a recatangle cake on top of it.

In 2023, United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1998 celebrated 25 years as a chartered Steelworkers local union. There are over 10,000 members who work at the University of Toronto, Victoria University, University of St. Michael’s College and University of Toronto Schools and Local 1998 is one of the union’s largest local unions. USW National Director Marty Warren and District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic Canada) Myles Sullivan attended the anniversary celebration event.

The administrative and technical staff at the University of Toronto became the USW’s first local union in the university sector. At the time, staff at the university were looking for a strong union to protect them, while the Steelworkers were looking to expand beyond the traditional industrial and manufacturing base to organize. The organizing drive brought out many experienced organizers in the union, but it also developed new activists who were working at the university and wanted to get involved.

“Congratulations to USW Local 1998 on 25 strong years. We are proud, as we were 25 years ago, to represent you with the goal of together continuously improving the working lives of those who work for the university,” said Sullivan.

The local union has grown over the years and will continue to expand to other employee groups. Most recently, the local has organized a new unit of University Residence Dons. As a result of USW Local 1998 joining the ranks, the USW now represents close to 15,000 workers in the university sector in Canada and thousands more in the United States.

The University Pension Plan, Job Evaluation and Pay Equity

Members of Local 1998 worked closely with other Steelworkers, unions and faculty to create the University Pension Plan (UPP) for members. The UPP is a trusted pension plan for the university sector and guarantees sustainable pensions for members.

Through collective bargaining, the local union has been able to reach a historic job evaluation maintenance protocol and pay equity adjustments for members at four employers. These two tools will ensure a fair and transparent system to determine the classification and pay levels for jobs going forward. 

“Over the years, the local union has secured very important gains through collective bargaining and the activism of our members,” said John Ankenman, USW Local 1998 President. “Through constant threats of various provincial governments’ wage freezes, one as recent as Bill 124, our local and members have weathered through and certainly found wins where we can.”

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