Steelworkers, U of T Reach Tentative Deal for 4,100 Employees

Proposed collective agreement includes groundbreaking plan to ensure pension sustainability

TORONTO, Sept. 10, 2014 /CNW/ - A groundbreaking plan to ensure pension sustainability for University of Toronto employees is one of the highlights of a tentative agreement negotiated between the university and United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1998.

Approximately 4,100 members of the USW Local 1998 staff-appointed bargaining unit are affected by the tentative agreement, which was reached Tuesday night. In total, Local 1998 represents over 7,000 administrative and technical staff and English language instructors at the University of Toronto, Victoria University, University of St. Michael's College and University of Toronto Schools.

In addition to the innovative plan for pension sustainability, "the tentative agreement provides numerous improvements in benefits, working conditions, health and safety, job security and other issues," said Paul Tsang, USW Local 1998 President.

"These were extremely difficult negotiations, affected by the climate of austerity that the Ontario government is trying to impose on broader public-sector workers," said USW Staff Representative Stuart Deans. "Given such challenging circumstances, we believe we have negotiated an agreement that is fair and reasonable for our members and the university."

Details of the tentative deal will not be released publicly until union members are able to review the agreement and hold a ratification vote. Union members will review the agreement Thursday and will hold a ratification vote Friday.

The USW acknowledged that sustainability of the University of Toronto Pension Plan was an important issue as it entered negotiations on a new collective agreement with the university.

"A key element of these negotiations was the historic cooperation agreement between USW Local 1998 and the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) to assess options to reform the pension plan and ensure its long-term sustainability," Tsang noted.

The USW and UTFA tabled a joint proposal to the university to form a Joint Working Committee to collectively assess pension reform options and potential solutions. The University of Toronto Pension Plan provides pension benefits to over 17,000 members including 5,000 retirees.

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Contacts: Paul Tsang, USW Local 1998 President, 416-879-0896, p.tsang@usw1998.ca; 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

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