posted on Feb. 26: Just in! MUSA to hold strike vote as soon as possible


The University bargaining team learned at approximately 9:15 this morning that the McMaster University Staff Association will hold a strike vote as soon as possible.

University bargaining team member Dave Tucker says they were advised by the MUSA negotiating committee that “a single vote for the purpose of authorizing a strike would be held as soon as possible.”

MUSA has requested the University's assistance in conducting the vote and in getting polling information out to members. The strike vote is not scheduled for today or tomorrow.

Tucker says the union's bargaining team advised them that the employer's proposals “were not reasonable,” and they were unable to proceed (with negotiations). The union's team informed the University it saw no way around the impasse.

In an e-mail to its members yesterday afternoon (Sunday, Feb. 25), MUSA negotiating chair Ron Lodewyks says “It is our expectation that we will continue bargaining throughout the night in the hope of reaching a negotiated settlement prior to the Feb. 26/27 deadline.” There is no mention in the e-mail of a strike vote.

“They're taking the ball and going home,” says Tucker of the strike vote notification. “All they have to do to continue negotiations is give us a call. We're ready to continue negotiating. They've created an artificial crisis.”

To date, the union's bargaining team has not committed to providing any notice of a strike (to the University) even though their members play a key role in the health and safety of the campus community, says Tucker.

News of MUSA's intention to hold a strike vote comes after a long weekend of bargaining. The University's bargaining team says it presented a number of extensive proposals over the weekend which provided significant improvements.

“We've made significant progress on some issues,” says Alan Harrison, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and a member of the University's bargaining team. “Specifically we have come closer to agreement on job security, recall rights and seniority. However, other issues are still unresolved.”

The most significant item that still hasn't been discussed is money. According to Harrison, ” We have asked MUSA at almost every meeting for a response to the University's monetary offer. We've yet to receive a response. There is no way to finalize the contract if MUSA doesn't tell us what kind of pay increase they want for their membership.”

The University's initial offer that was tabled in December is a 10% increase in wages over four years. A significant part of the offer is an immediate payment to compensate staff for the time they have gone without an increase. The rest of the increase would be fully implemented by the end of next year. The increases would be built into the salary base.

The University has undertaken that it will immediately address two issues: the student tuition assistance program and staff representation on selection committees. Harrison says, “We have given two letters to MUSA which detail the University's commitment to the tuition assistance plan, and that staff are an important part of the University selection committee process.” (To view the two letters, click here.

Negotiators for the University and the staff association (MUSA) had been engaged in non-stop talks since the bargaining teams returned to the table last Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Editor's note:Barry Diacon, MUSA president, and Ron Lodewyks were both contacted this morning for a comment for this story.

Postscript: See also: Notice to Readers: Further Explanation of Monetary Proposal