USW Local 2010, representing 1,400 administrative and support staff at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, have ratified a new three-year deal retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022.
While wages and benefits were constrained to a 1% increase by the provincial government’s Bill 124, the three-year contract makes significant improvements in non-monetary provisions and working conditions.
Any member working through the salary grid is still able to receive their step increase as they progress through the grid, combined with the 1% increase. Those who are at the top of the grid will receive a 1% increase.
The union conducted member surveys prior to bargaining and an overwhelming number of members reported feeling burned-out and exhausted. The bargaining committee was able to communicate this concern to the employer and put forward proposals around workload, wellness and mental health.
As a result, there are now articles in the agreement to allow the union to challenge members’ workloads – encouraging and empowering members to discuss these issues with managers. Language around adaptable schedules was also changed to be more favourable to members.
Another important gain is securing job evaluation and pay equity language – moving from a letter of understanding to an article in the agreement. The Pay Equity Act and maintenance language allows the local union access to the employer’s data on jobs created, evaluated and re-evaluated. The union can audit the data and file a dispute with the Pay Equity Commission over any discrepancies.
“Securing job evaluation and pay equity language in the contract was a crucial moment for our members. It was one of the main reasons we joined the USW in 2010 – to go from a staff association to a union, to be able to dispute this very issue,” said USW Local 2010 President Kelly Orser.
More gains were made with an increase to the parental leave top-up benefit, going from 20 weeks to 25 weeks, as well as yearly increases to the Tuition Benefit Plan and the Childcare Benefit Plan during the life of the contract.
Additionally, the scope of members working remotely has been expanded, allowing them to work remotely anywhere in the province of Ontario.
“This new contract will really help a lot of our members and their families. Non-monetary gains are just as valuable because they still have direct effects on our members’ lives,” said Connie Boisvert, member of the Local 2010 bargaining committee.
“I want to thank USW Local 2010’s bargaining committee for their hard work and resilience at the bargaining table. Despite the punitive Bill 124, you have made important gains in your contracts that are beneficial to your members for years to come. Thank you to the members for your strong support and solidarity for the bargaining committee,” concluded USW District 6 Director Myles Sullivan.
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