U of S and CUPE reach tentative agreement

The forest centre will become the new site for the University of Saskatchewan's Prince Albert campus. It's expected to be completed for the fall 2020 semester. (Daily Herald file photo)

After working without a contract since 2015, support workers at the University of Saskatchewan have reached a tentative agreement with the institution’s administration.

The agreement, reached Friday, still needs to be ratified by the 2,000 CUPE 1975 members. It includes pay increases and protects pensions with a guaranteed level of income for all workers upon retirement.

The deal comes one day after a tribunal determined that fewer than 50 positions would be deemed essential in the event of a strike or lockout. The university had asked or over 250. Essential workers can’t participate in job actions.

While the tribunal was deliberating, neither side was permitted to take any job action.

“This deal has been a long time coming,” said Craig Hannah, president of CUPE Local 1975 in a press release.

 “In the end, we were able to come to an agreement that serves our members now and in their future.”

The ratification vote will be held next week. More details will be released once the deal has been approved.

‘While we were ready for any outcome, our goal has always been to get the best deal possible while avoiding any job action,” Hannah said.

‘We recognized that the university is struggling with underfunding from the province. Today’s they’re showing our members the respect they deserve and recognizing the important contributions they make every day.”

While the two sides were locked in the labour dispute, CUPE members picketed several of university president Peter Stoicheff’s public appearances, including his visit to the future Prince Albert campus.