Queen’s University Staff Join United Steelworkers
KINGSTON, ON AND TORONTO, Dec. 13 /CNW/ – Administrative staff of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, have voted to join the United Steelworkers (USW).
“This is a great day for Queen’s staff,” said Kelly Smith, a 20-year Queen’s employee in the Faculty of Arts and Science. “Now that we have our vote counted, we can move forward with real bargaining rights that give staff a voice in the decisions that affect us. Staff have always been proud contributors to the life of our university and that will continue.”
The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) today completed the counting of ballots that were cast in a representation vote on March 31, 2010. The final count of ballots was delayed due to differences between the union and the university regarding the bargaining unit’s structure.
After engaging in discussions and a formal mediation process, the USW and Queen’s reached a settlement with the assistance of mediator/arbitrator Janice Johnson, paving the way for today’s final count.
The new bargaining unit will number almost 1,100 employees. Queen’s staff join 7,500 other university employees in Ontario who are already members of the USW – at the University of Guelph and at the University of Toronto and its affiliated colleges Victoria University and St. Michael’s University College.
“Staff are a key part of Queen’s successes and we have for a long time needed a stronger voice,” said Mark Publicover, a 30-year Queen’s employee in the geography department. “It is a time of great change in the university sector and finally staff have a place at the table.
“Throughout the campaign, we reached out and talked about real issues with our colleagues, like fairness, a genuine voice for staff, consistent policies, job security, pensions and a better way to resolve complaints. Now we can look forward to reaching out to all staff to get ready for the exciting challenges of collective bargaining.”
“Our union is excited by this vote of confidence,” said USW Ontario Director Wayne Fraser. “In June 2008 we were chosen by Queen’s staff to assist them in forming their union. We backed this long and challenging campaign because we knew that Queen’s staff were committed to a solid effort. The vote results show that Queen’s staff and the union made the right choice.”
“Our union is growing steadily with new members joining across the country, and this is one of the largest organizing wins in Canada in the last few years,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.
“We welcome the Queen’s staff. They will be a great part of our union. Now it is time to get ready for the opportunities that real collective bargaining brings.”