Dalhousie Labour Tigers Rise

*This article appeared in the summer edition of the Union Stand

By standing together, Dalhousie University Support Staff, Local 77/Local 92-77 was able to reach an agreement that maintains and improves their pensions over time.

Heading into this round of bargaining, Dalhousie initially tried to scare members into accepting concessions in their collective agreement by claiming enrollment would be down significantly because of COVID. Dalhousie also wanted to use the CPP enhancements to their own benefit at the expense of our members. However, the Bargaining Committee knew the university experienced a record year of enrollment in 2020/2021. Dalhousie, in fact, has a balanced budget with millions of dollars in reserves from previous years’ surpluses. As well, the provincial government provided Dalhousie with $9.5 million in extra funding to address COVID-related expenses. So, although the employer did not want to move from their position, which would have negatively impacted our members’ pensions. In the end, to reach an agreement and avoid a strike– they did just that.

Bargaining was tough. At times, a strike seemed imminent. Members organized a phone bank and, in the hours leading up to the strike, they were in the process of activating the Steward network and organizing Picket Captains. But, because the Bargaining Committee was creative and open to alternatives, they were able to reach an agreement that improves their pension over the years to come.

This agreement was hard fought at the bargaining table. The threat of a strike was real and palpable. That strength gave the bargaining committee power at the table and resulted in the best agreement possible. Thank you to the Bargaining Committee for their strength and knowledge of their collective agreement: Pauline Fraser, John Kyle, Cherilyn MacIntosh, Tammy Zinck, and Cheryl Paris. Staff who supported and helped to lead the team were: Darryl Warren, Chief Negotiator, our former Executive Director Robin MacLean who provided wise leadership through negotiations and Lori Smith, our Education/Organizing Officer who was working to prepare the local for a strike if it came to that. It was a difficult round of bargaining, but we did it! •

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