Contract for 4,100 Steelworkers at U of T Ratified by 74%

New collective agreement includes groundbreaking plan to ensure pension sustainability, benefits and pay increases

TORONTO, Sept. 13, 2014 /CNW/ - University of Toronto administrative and technical staff, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1998, approved a new collective agreement Friday.

Union members voted 73.9% in favour of a three-year contract that includes a groundbreaking plan to ensure sustainability of their defined benefit pension plan, as well as pay increases and significant improvements in benefits.

"This is a reasonable and fair deal given extremely difficult circumstances," said USW Local 1998 President Paul Tsang.

"This has been the toughest round of negotiations our members have faced," Tsang said. "We moved the university from austerity to increases and from concessions to better benefits."

The new contract applies to 4,100 USW Local 1998 members who work as administrative and technical staff at the university. Union members voted throughout the day Friday on a tentative agreement that was reached earlier in the week by union and management bargaining committees.

A highlight of the new contract is an innovative plan to address concerns over the sustainability of the University of Toronto Pension Plan.

A historic cooperation agreement was reached between USW Local 1998, the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) and the university administration to pursue pension plan reform over the next three years.

"I congratulate the leadership and members of Local 1998 for resisting the austerity agenda imposed by the Ontario government and achieving real improvements to their working conditions and standards," said Marty Warren, the USW's Ontario Director.

Though the Liberal government has attempted to dictate wage freezes for public-sector workers, USW Local 1998 has negotiated increases totaling 3.25 percent and one-time payments of $500 per employee over the terms of their contract. The improvements are in addition to annual wage increases earned by employees based on a progression on a salary grid.

The new contract includes improvements to job security and overtime provisions and increases in benefits such as vision care and a child care subsidy, which is expected to rise from $2,000 to $2,300 annually. The deal also calls for a new workers health and safety centre to be created on campus to offer information, advice and support to employees.

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Paul Tsang, USW Local 1998 President, 416-879-0896, p.tsang@usw1998.ca; Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792; Stuart Deans, USW Staff Representative, 647-226-8792, sdeans@usw.ca; Alex D. McKinnon, USW Research Director, 416-544-5981, 519-651-9755, amckinnon@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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