CUPE Addresses Board Of Govenors Feb 25, 2016

FEB 25TH, 2016 

• Good Morning, Janice Folk-Dawson representing CUPE 1334 – Trades, 
Maintenance and Service workers on campus.

• We are 220 skilled workers who ensure our campus is safe, clean and
 well maintained.

• We have a daily impact and contact with 21,000 students, over 3,000
 staff (academic and support) and thousands of campus visitors.

• CUPE workers are on campus – working 24 hours a day – 7 days a week
 – 365 days a year.

• We know and care for everyone on campus.

• We are trusted and relied on by staff, students, their parents and
 the broader community.

• We actively participate on all University convened committees such
 as Employment Equity, Code of Ethical Purchasing, Central and Local
 Health & Safety Committees, and Human Rights Advisory.

• I am here today to discuss how decisions around budgeting issues has
 made the critical roles of CUPE 1334 members even more difficult and
 make recommendations for an alternate approach.

• The University of Guelph’s mission statement contemplates how
 critical the work of my bargaining unit is to the whole student

• Clearly there is a direct relationship between being committed to
 the highest standards of pedagogy, to the education and well-being of
 the whole person and, providing enough staff that meets the highest
 standard of a healthy, safe and clean learning living and working

• However, our lived experience – as workers who combined have given
 literally hundreds of years to ensuring Guelph’s environment allows
 for the education and well-being of the whole person – is quite
 different than the spirit of this University’s lofty mission

• In fact, particularly in recent years, the disregard for our
 critical role by this University has left us concerned and confused.

• Instead of prioritizing increasing the number of custodial staff to
 meet the increased demands of this university community, the physical
 resources dept, has proposed eliminating CUPE workers – members of
 the university community and contracting out to low paid contractors,
 who don’t have the necessary skill set for this environment or the
 connection or accountability to our community!

• To imagine that the critical roles we perform can be contracted out
 to the lowest-bidder not only diminishes and devalues us as members
 of this University community it raises serious questions about
 Guelph’s commitment to students and the broader community.

• This University’s drive to increase low-waged, precarious work in
 the Guelph community – while also diminishing services to students
 on campus – is particularly disturbing since the numbers show it is
 wholly unnecessary.

• Our research demonstrates a surplus of 66.6 M for 2015, with $759.4M
 total revenue and $689.4M in expenses.

• This leaves us serious questions about exactly why contracting out
 is happening – why is the education and well-being of the whole
 student being sacrificed? Why is this University becoming a proponent
 of low-waged, precarious work that will negatively impact the broader

• It seems as though corporatization of our university campus is
 changing negatively the priorities of our university away from
 academics and education towards prioritizing a corporate mindset.

• Prioritizing the education and research environment is not
 compatible with reducing the quality of cleanliness on our campus.

• Prioritizing the education and research environment is not
 compatible with cutting Women Studies as this University did.

• And prioritizing the education and research environment certainly
 isn’t about making individual departments to fund their own research.

• Our university environment must be maintained at a level of
 financing – across departments – that maintains a standard across a
 diversity of programs.

• This includes the learning environment.

• Our CUPE members work environment is the learning and living
 environment of our students.

• Workers on our campus are a valuable part of the university
 community and have pride in – and a deep commitment to the work that
 they do.

• So what are we spending our money on?

• Over the last decade, the University of Guelph has undergone
 extensive restructuring and consolidation of administrative
 functions. We can now boast that we are among the least costly
 universities in the province in terms of the percentage of
 institutional expenditures associated with university’s major central
 administrative operations.

• But in 2015, net income was lower than 2014 as expenses increased at
 rates higher than revenues.

• Interestingly the majority of the expenditure increases in 2015 were
 associated with non-salary operating costs for non-structural
 expenses such as construction costs, soft-ware and information
 resources purchases.

• Instead of looking at cutting staff unrelated to these increased
 costs – the university should be looking to the campus community
 including workers for innovative solutions to the real 2015 cost
 drivers including:

 Open source software,
 Upgrades and maintenance of current buildings instead of building
 new buildings,
 Maintaining the campus at a sustainable size, and
 Providing support for current areas of research.

• Instead of cutting, focus on maintaining quality education and
 collaborate with the academic and support community to do this

• Again, to be committed to upholding our mission statement as a
 University and our place in the broader community, we must be
 critical of rapidly rising income inequality.

• Specifically, this body has to examine its own role in actually
 growing wage inequality on our campus and how that is impacting the
 broader growing gap between the best off in our society and all the
 rest of us.

• Over the last 13 years we have seen:
 Associate deans salary increase 65.4%
 VP salary increased 79.1%
 Deans salary increased 98.9% since 1996 and
 The presidents salary increased 160.7%

• During the same 13 years CUPE workers salary has increased 33% -
 taking CPI and inflation into account, in 13 years we gained 7%
 growth in real income.
• And now CUPE members are being told OUR modest wages are the issue?
 Our jobs are too expensive to keep? Our years of hard work in this
 community can be replaced by an ever-rotating group of low-waged,
 precarious contract workers who – all decent people would hope –
 have the opportunity to leave those bad contract jobs for full time

• Really? Is that the message Guelph wants to send to the broader
 community? That senior administration is worth massive wage hikes,
 while hard working custodians, trades and maintenance workers don’t
 even merit a decent, secure full time job?

• This shift to contracting out our work, in its fundamental form, is
 about replacing individuals who are a valued part of the university
 community with cheaper labour.

• Research and teaching are the core missions of the university but
 they depend upon the contributions of hard working support staff.

• If Guelph really is a community, all members need to be valued and

• Contracting out decent union work divides the community, lowers the
 standards and shows disrespect for the historical contributions of
 our workers.

• In closing, we restate:
 Increase staff levels to meet the needs of the community and
 maintain the principles of our mission statement,
 Upgrade and maintenance of current buildings instead of building
 new buildings,
 Maintain the campus at a sustainable size, and
 Provide supports for current areas of research.

• Thank you for this opportunity to address the committee and we look
 forward to more opportunities for students and workers to be involved
 in a democratic, progressive budget process.