Help Defend Good Jobs at WLU

Tweet telling people to email WLU PresidentGood day members and friends –

I am writing to you about CUPE Local 926 which has 68 custodians. Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) wants to contract out their work.

Please go to www.stopcontractingout.ca and click on “send a message” and put your name in and it will send a message to the President of the University, Dr. Max Blouw.

Background

In 2015 WLU, cut back 9 full-time equivalent custodial positions as well as lay offs for admin staff and faculty. The University has advised us that this is not a cost containment issue, but they sent each employee a letter stating that Laurier did not get value for service, sick usage was high, too costly for shift premiums and overtime. Over the last 7 years they have reduced the number of custodians from 100 to the 68 but they still have to clean the same amount of space, which is now approximately 35,000 to 40,000 sq ft every 8 hour shift. These members are primarily female and need their jobs. After acquiring sick leave usage, the average use of days is 11 per year, which is considerably lower than the elementary/secondary school and hospital employees. The University insisted on moving employees to night shift and they offered the shift premium, but to date have not even moved their maximum allotted employees to nights and weekends. As for overtime, no member has been scheduled for overtime in years and the only members receiving overtime are those called in for emergencies.

CUPE members on an information picket in December 2015

The University is replacing our unionized custodians with “Bee Clean.” This firm is already cleaning at the university and I took the opportunity to speak to one of the workers. She was in her early 40s an immigrant and was making $13/hour with no benefits or pension. The University pays this company $19.68 per hour of service and that is for light custodial duties. Washing and waxing of floors cost extra. Unionized members are making $20.80 per hour.

I am asking for your help by going to www.stopcontractingout.ca which will take you immediately to a link for CUPE Local 926 and all you have to do is click on “send a message” and put your name in and it will send a message to the president of the University, Dr. Max Blouw who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars plus perks. You will receive a bullshit message back from Blouw stating how the University's proposals do not affect current employees and I do not know how he has come to that conclusion with 9 positions lost already plus an additional 2 laid off that were just recalled to cover other members who are off for surgeries.

As well, Laurier is just finishing up building a new School of Business paid for by Mike Lazaridis (Blackberry mega million) and 9 custodians from the contracted company will be assigned to work there. Once it opens they are closing an older building for renovations and will be laying off 3 women who desperately need the work and one is a young single mother with 2 children even though they need 9 custodians in the new building.

I hope you can support us in fighting to keep these good paying jobs in our community instead of replacing them with precarious workers. In a perfect world we would like to see our 3 current members transferred over and then hire the other 6 custodians needed from the Bee Clean employees! Please forward to everyone you know. Thank you and I am very much appreciative,

Jill

National Representative
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Kitchener


Showing 4 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • commented 2016-03-22 10:27:59 -0400
    If you’ve sent a message to WLU President Max Blouw, you would have received a response from him defending Laurier’s tactics. CUPE has made a formal response to his letter, which is worth reading!

    http://926.cupe.ca/2016/03/21/response-to-max-blouw-from-cupe/
    Dear Dr. Blouw: You call it what you want; we call it union busting

    Dear CUPE members, supporters and friends:

    First, warmest thanks to everyone who signed the petition letter at www.stopcontractingout.ca. We are deeply grateful for your solidarity and support for our efforts to retain the anti-contracting out language in CUPE 926’s collective agreement.

    Keeping this language in our contract is more than a matter of principle; it is all that stands between good-paying custodial jobs at Laurier and low-paying jobs with an outsourced cleaning service. And it is all that stands between our CUPE members and layoffs.

    If you signed the petition letter, you will have received reply from Laurier President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Max Blouw. That’s encouraging for a couple of reasons: it means we know we’re having an impact; and it gives us a chance to refute the misinformation that the university’s leadership is peddling.

    Our answer is below; quotes from the university president’s letter are in italics and CUPE’s responses follow:

    Among the most challenging of the issues under discussion are those specific to the delivery of custodial services. The University has communicated to CUPE that we are interested in negotiating a business model for custodial services that will be cost effective and sustainable on a go-forward basis…

    CUPE’s response: Dr. Blouw, CUPE has a lot of problems with the way custodial services have been run at Laurier, what with positions left unfilled after resignations and retirements, and 67 custodians left doing work meant to done by 100. But whether by accident or design, custodians are being scapegoated for various issues of mismanagement: Laurier gapping positions and stretching existing staff too thinly; claiming that absenteeism is at 19 days per year, when the average is actually 11; failing to provide custodians with standard cleaning supplies; and more.

    … and that will not impact the jobs of our current custodians. It is because we value our employees that we have taken this long-term approach and promised that none of our current custodial staff (about 67 in total) will be laid off as a result of contracting out.

    CUPE’s response: Wrong, Dr. Blouw. The anti-contracting out article protects workers from being laid off. If it is amended in our collective agreement, the minute the new Global building opens and the “Peters” building closes, three full-time permanent custodians will be laid off. They will have no chance of being recalled to work because Laurier has no plans to transfer these employees to the Global building.

    It is important to note that the University is seeking collective agreement language that CUPE has agreed to at many other universities. This language allows for flexibility to use third-party contractors to deliver some custodial services as needed, as long as no existing CUPE employee is laid off as a result.

    CUPE’s response: Dr. Blouw, please don’t tell us what CUPE has agreed to at other universities. We fight contracting out, privatization and outsourcing every day. We fight for members’ jobs and for the added value that our jobs bring to a community. As for no CUPE employee being laid off – as already mentioned, three workers will be laid off immediately, and the university will let attrition do the rest.

    You know that Laurier never intends to hire a custodian ever again. We know this because you announced to the Board of Governors that there will be no CUPE custodians at Laurier.

    The University has further assured that no trades or grounds employees will be laid off, and no trades or grounds positions will be lost, as a result of contracting out.

    CUPE’s response: Then please put your money where your mouth is, Dr. Blouw: provide a proposal without conditions and offer it to the local’s negotiating committee.

    As a public-sector institution it is important for us to ensure that we are delivering services to our students in a productive and financially responsible manner. The current business model for delivering custodial services does not meet these standards of productivity and financial sustainability. Therefore we must seek alternative ways to deliver this service going forward.

    CUPE’s response: CUPE proposed the creation of a new custodial position with a starting pay of $17 per hour, similar to custodial classifications across the university sector in Ontario. Other cost-saving measures proposed were recommendations for a sustainable short-term sick leave plan.

    But apparently your business model for delivering financially sustainable custodial services involves cleaning services carried out by mainly by immigrant women working for $13 an hour ($3 less than the living wage in the Waterloo region).

    The University has tried to problem-solve this issue with CUPE, including the examination of alternatives to contracting out.

    CUPE’s response: No, it hasn’t. In this round of bargaining, Laurier has made no effort to find a compromise.

    However the Union has not responded with any proposals to date that adequately address the University’s financial and operational concerns.

    CUPE’s response: Nonsense; Laurier’s management team responded to CUPE’s offer by withdrawing their sick leave proposal and rejecting our proposal for a new custodial position at $17 an hour.

    Your email allows me the opportunity to clarify a common misbelief that the university will lay off our own custodial, trades and grounds employees once the Collective Agreement is signed. In fact, this is the opposite of our intentions. The University seeks first to protect its own employees and only when custodial positions are freely vacated, then to utilize, where feasible, a third party contractor.

    CUPE’s response: Dr. Blouw, whether you admit it or not, Laurier’s actions are classic union-busting tactics. Our fight against Laurier’s plans is a fight to preserve good jobs for our members, for the university and for our community.
  • commented 2016-03-21 22:48:15 -0400
    I’m both a Laurier grad and the son of someone who worked in physical plant operations at the university. I told Max Blouw that I’d like to continue to be proud of both of those facts.
  • commented 2016-03-21 19:49:59 -0400
    I love your response to President Blouw, Angele!
  • commented 2016-03-21 19:47:13 -0400
    On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 10:57 AM, Angèle Lacroix wrote:

    Good morning Mr Blouw,

    Thank you for the clarification but you will understand that this information is even more concerning.

    I totally understand the fact that present employee would not be laid off…. But your stands also mean that NO new jobs will be created and more so… existing ones will be replaced once these employees either retires or quit by outsourced contractor. Whether is 67 or 100….. doesn’t matter….. ONE is ONE to many at this point.

    This is very concerning to our community as we will see good jobs going away and replaced by low paid contracted job, with no benefits what so ever…. Which will benefit the bigger corporation that will hire them and down the road one or two budget lines at your level.

    We understand negotiation but not at all price….

    Of course we don’t have all the information as to who will benefit from these cuts… some of those employee are probably the parents of some of your students…or maybe students that just graduated from Laurier but not able to secure a job in their field…. students that will tell us that the tuition fees have gone up…. Where Is that money going to… which budget lines is it affected if not of the one of the public service you want to provide to the community? Providing high service also means providing the chance to the community we represent to grow and to make us proud in the value we carry as an employer… Pardon me, but I don’t see this in the reasoning giving below… I see number concerns on the back of our community…. Not community concerns.

    Thanks again for your quick response but I really hope that you will reflect and change your position on the matter. As an advocate for our community members I really don’t see any benefits for them at this time.

    Have yourself a wonderful day!