September 12, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 9  

Front Page >> News > Caretaker's union hopes to clean up


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Caretaker's union hopes to clean up

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

There is a possibility Western may start to smell very, very bad.

The collective agreement between the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 2361 - which represents approximately 250 caretakers, trades people and arena workers at Western - and the university expired Jun. 30 of this year and a conciliator has been called in to mediate.

The two groups have met six times throughout the past few months starting in early June and talks were originally called off this past Tuesday, according to Fred Blake, the national staff representative for CUPE, who is in charge of local 2361.

"It's not abnormal that talks go beyond the end of [an agreement]," Blake said. "We've reached an impasse," he remarked, adding concerns over wages, job contracting and benefits are the key sticking points.

According to Blake, all employees represented in the union are in a position where their jobs could potentially be contracted out.

David Estok, director of Western's department of communications and public affairs, said the university was disappointed the two sides were not able to reach an agreement.

"We're still hopeful that we can achieve a new agreement that is fair for both sides," he stated.

Estok also noted both sides met briefly Wednesday, but at that meeting the union requested a no-board report, which, once filed by the conciliator, will leave a 17-day window before the sides are in a legal strike or lockout position.

As to whether there were more talks planned, both Estok and Blake said there are meetings expected in late September or early October, through no definite date has been set at this point.

Blake also expressed confidence in the process. "[So far], it's been normal bargaining - the relations between CUPE 2361 and the university have always been good and I would say they still are," he said.

No matter what happens in the upcoming meetings, Estok asserted Western was currently putting a contingency plan into place.



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