2019 Updates

July 10, 2019

On July 9, CUPE 1975 announced that its members have ratified a five-year collective agreement for the period of January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2020. Of the members who voted, 97% were in support of the new agreement. The Board of Governors also approved the agreement on July 9, 2019.  

July 3, 2019

The Collective Agreement between the University and CUPE 1975 was tentatively agreed on June 28, 2019. The tentative agreement is subject to ratification by the CUPE 1975 membership and approval by the University Board of Governors. Highlights from the five-year agreement covering January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020 include:

Compensation

$4,000 Lump sum payment per member active at the date of signing 
Pro-rated based on FTE, excluding casuals/recurring relief/FAPA

Wage Adjustment
0.0% – 2016
0.0% – 2017
1.5% – 2018
2.0% – 2019 (2.0% adjustment to salary range)
2.0% – 2020 (2.0% adjustment to salary range)

Minimum of 2.0% salary increase if a position is placed in a higher phase through transfer, promotion or position review

Benefits

Flexible Spending Benefit increases to $400 (effective Jan. 1, 2020)

Pension

Members of Non Academic Pension Plan (NAPP) and new CUPE 1975 members will be enrolled into the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) DBplus Pension Plan on September 1, 2019 and no longer contribute to the NAPP.

The DBplus pension plan offers a predictable, lifetime income in retirement, inflation protection and survivor benefits that removes the need to worry about complex investments, market downturns, or outliving your savings.

Members’ current NAPP pension is protected and will be paid out monthly upon retirement, in addition to the monthly payments members will receive from the new DBplus Pension Plan.

DBplus Pension Plan Highlights

Employees contributes 7.0% of pensionable earnings to plan until Dec. 31, 2020
Employees contributes 7.5% of pensionable earnings to plan after Jan. 1, 2021
The university contributes 7.0% of pensionable earnings to plan until Dec. 31, 2020
The university contributes 7.5% of pensionable earnings to plan after Jan. 1, 2021
Employees earn predictable monthly DB pension benefits payable for life with valuable inflation protection
A lifetime pension is payable to the member’s surviving spouse. In a case of death before retirement, more options are available.

Hours of Work

Days off with pay at Christmas so employees no longer have to use vacation or banked time

Vacation Accrual

25 Vacation Days after 14 years of service (currently 17 years)
30 Vacation Days after 22 years of service (currently 23 years)

Members of CUPE 1975 are being called to ratify the agreement early next week.

  • Monday, July 8, 9 am – 4 pm 17 McLean Hall.
    • advance poll, a member of the executive will answer brief questions
  • Tuesday, July 9, 4:30–8 pm Health Sciences 1130 and 1150 
    • informational meeting followed by voting until 8 pm

Following ratification the Tentative Agreement will go to the Board of Governors for approval.

June 28, 2019

The university and CUPE 1975 have signed a tentative agreement today, June 28, 2019. This agreement is subject to members of CUPE 1975 ratifying it through a vote, as well as approval from the Board of Governors. Full details of the agreement will be available soon.

June 27, 2019

Earlier today the university received the Essential Services Tribunal's final decision. The university continues to be engaged in contingency planning and will ensure that all essential services on campus are supported.

The university and CUPE 1975 are scheduled to continue bargaining this afternoon.

June 12, 2019

CUPE 1975 has invited the university negotiating team back to the bargaining table to present a revised offer. The negotiating teams have scheduled negotiations for June 25 and 26.

June 7, 2019

The Essential Services Tribunal hearing continued through June 4-7, inclusive. CUPE 1975 submitted their evidence through witness testimony over these four days. The evidentiary submissions phase for this hearing process has now concluded, and the parties’ closing arguments are scheduled for June 14 – a decision from the Tribunal is anticipated within 14 days thereafter. Thank you to all those involved in participating in this important process.

May 3, 2019

The Essential Services Tribunal resumed this week on May 2 and 3. The university submitted further evidence outlining the need for essential services on campus. It is anticipated that the university’s testimony will conclude on May 22 and that CUPE 1975 will begin to present their evidence shortly thereafter. The Tribunal is scheduled to continue on May 22, 24, and June 4-7 and 14. Neither party can serve notice of job action/lock-out until the dispute regarding essential services has been resolved.

April 24, 2019

The university recently made an offer to settle which was rejected by CUPE 1975 today. We believe the  latest offer to settle enhances this collective agreement, and we are committed to concluding negotiations and reaching a new collective agreement with CUPE 1975.

USask is committed to providing all employees fair and reasonable employment terms and conditions, as demonstrated by our most recent offer to members of CUPE 1975 that features a large signing bonus, multi-year salary increases between 2 and 4 per cent annually (up to 14% total increase over 5 years), and paid days off between Christmas and New Years. It is our hope that members will be given an opportunity to vote on this offer.

Wage Increase 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Total
Increment 2% 2% 2% 2% 2%
10%
Increase $3,000 signing bonus (pro-rated FTE) 2% 2%
4% + $3,000

CUPE 1975's current pension plan is the last open defined benefit pension plan on campus, and one of only a few remaining in Saskatchewan for provincial and municipal employees. All other employee groups on campus moved away from defined benefit pension plans twenty years ago. As a percentage of salary, the current CUPE 1975 pension plan requires the highest combined contribution rates by both members and the university in comparison to all other university pension plans. 

Since 2008, the CUPE 1975 pension has required more than $30 million in additional funding from the university. The latest valuation of the current pension's performance for 2018 indicates an increasingly negative financial position, further adding to the costs borne by the university, and diverted away from the university's core teaching and research mission. The university can no longer continue to cover the additional costs and financial risks of this defined benefit pension plan, which is neither affordable nor financially sustainable. 

Over the past decade, including this latest round of bargaining, the university has worked with CUPE 1975 to address the financial issues of the current pension plan, offering more than ten proposed solutions. With no agreement reached, it is clear that both parties have reached an impasse on pensions.

Due to the pension impasse, the university will no longer be including pensions proposals in any future negotiations with CUPE 1975. While the university has the right to amend the pension plan without CUPE’s approval, the University engaged in a good faith effort at the bargaining table to find a workable solution for both parties. The university will proceed with pension reform at an appropriate time, under its long-existing right to do so (as confirmed by an arbitrator in 2017). It is anticipated that this reform will align the pension plan with all the other open university employee pension plans going forward, while respecting the existing entitlements of employees under the pension plan.  

No one’s pension is being taken away and all pension contributions made under the current plan will remain in place for our employees' retirements. When pension changes are made, the changes would only apply to contributions moving forward. The university is committed to ensuring that all of its employees receive a fair and reasonable pension that is competitive, financially sustainable, and guarantees cost certainty for the university.

April 18, 2019

Earlier today the university tabled a new Offer to Settle with CUPE 1975’s bargaining team. Highlights from this offer include:

  $3,000 signing bonus in lieu of retro pay
  2% wage increases in 2019 and 2020 
  An increase from $200 to $400 for flexible spending accounts (health or personal)
  Days off with pay at Christmas (no longer required to use vacation or banked time)
  Changes to vacation model:

    • 25 vacation days after 14 years of service (currently 17 years)
    • 30 vacation days after 22 years of service (currently 23 years)

The university removed the proposed changes to the salary model, addressing CUPE 1975’s concerns and desire to stay within the current model. 

Full Offer to Settle Highlights

Over the past decade, the university has worked in good faith with CUPE 1975 in an attempt to find solutions to the financial issues related to the current Defined Benefit Pension Plan, offering over 10 proposed solutions. In this round of bargaining the university and CUPE 1975 have exchanged a number of proposals and significant negotiations over pensions. It is clear that on this issue, we have reached an impasse.

It is with this in mind that the university will no longer be including pensions in any future negotiations. The university will proceed with pension reform at an appropriate time, under its existing right, as confirmed by an arbitrator in 2017. The university remains committed to ensuring that all of its employees receive a fair and reasonable pension that is both competitive and financially sustainable for the university. 

April 16, 2019

The university negotiating team has invited CUPE 1975 back to the bargaining table. The university will be presenting a revised Offer to Settle. The negotiating teams are scheduled to meet this Thursday, April 18. 

April 5, 2019

The university and CUPE 1975 met with the mediator today to continue discussions around their existing offers. No resolution has been reached at this time.

April 2, 2019

Last week the university began to present evidence to the Essential Service Tribunal. More dates are necessary to conclude the evidence hearing, and have been scheduled for May 2, 3, 22, 24 and June 4-7. June 14 is scheduled for the parties to present their final arguments. Neither party can serve notice of job action/lock-out until the dispute regarding essential services has been resolved. 

March 22, 2019

The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (SK LRB) has ruled in favour of CUPE 1975’s request to withdraw the outstanding matter relating to scope/jurisdiction involving the university, CUPE 1975 and ASPA. This matter was unrelated to the collective bargaining process.  As this issue is no longer in front of the SK LRB, it will not impede the parties’ from serving notice of job action/lock-out once the dispute regarding essential services has been resolved. The Essential Services Tribunal is scheduled for March 26, 27 and 28.

March 22, 2019

On March 18, the university’s Board of Governors hosted a public reception where the president and members of senior administration were present. CUPE 1975 president and other members of their executive were also in attendance and had the opportunity to meet the Board Chair, and President Stoicheff. Mediation between CUPE 1975 and the university is scheduled to continue on April 5.

We continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions and have recently addressed the following questions:

March 15, 2019

Mediation is scheduled to resume on April 5, 2019.

March 12, 2019

Due to unforeseen personal circumstances, CUPE 1975 has had to postpone mediation, originally scheduled for Friday March 15. The parties remain committed to resuming mediation as soon as the university, CUPE 1975 and the mediator are available.

March 11, 2019

The University of Saskatchewan is committed to providing all employees fair and reasonable employment terms and conditions, including a competitive wage and pension plan. We believe that you have the right to understand the offers that are currently on the table. Please watch this video for an overview of our current offers.

March 4, 2019

The university remains committed to continuing negotiations with CUPE 1975 and was pleased to receive their request to return to mediation early last week. This request was made through the mediator, and both parties will resume mediation on March 15.

February 28, 2019

Earlier today the university and CUPE 1975 attended the preliminary hearing in front of the Essential Services Tribunal. The Tribunal decided, unanimously, to schedule dates to hear full evidentiary submissions by both parties in order to render a decision on CUPE 1975’s preliminary objection that USask is not a public employer that provides essential services. The scheduled dates are March 26, 27 and 28. Until this matter has been resolved, CUPE 1975 is not in a legal position to take job action.

February 27, 2019

Personalized Statements 

Clarification on the Use of December 31, 2015 Date for the Salary Comparison (or later date for those hired more recently).

The purpose of issuing personalized statements is to reflect how the University’s current proposal may affect your employment terms and conditions.

December 31, 2015, was used as the starting point for the salary comparison in the personalized statements as it is reflective of the expiration of the last CUPE 1975/USask collective agreement. The majority of employees in scope of CUPE 1975 have continued to receive the regular, annual 2% salary increases each year despite the expiry of the collective agreement. These increases have totaled 8% for the vast majority of CUPE 1975 members, since 2% increments continued to be provided January 1st of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The impact statement shows the total amount of salary increases within the 5 year proposal. With the proposed 2% negotiated salary adjustments for each of 2019 and 2020 in the university’s latest offer – plus the regular, annual increment in 2020- there remains the potential for significant upward movement to salary within the University’s proposal. The signing bonus is separate, and is in addition to these increases to base salary and is intended to offset retroactivity for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

If personalized statements reflect dates later than December 31, 2015, this is because these staff commenced employment in their most recent position after the expiry of the last contract.

Answers to frequently asked questions regarding the proposed compensation model are available here

February 26, 2019

On Monday, Feb. 25 most employees who are members of CUPE 1975 received personalized statements, outlining how the university’s current offer would impact them directly. These statements are intended to be an estimate to inform employees and provide them with a better understanding of the current offer and how it would affect them. Please continue to visit this site and review the frequently asked questions.

February 11, 2019

CUPE 1975 has indicated that they do not believe an Essential Services Agreement is required under provincial legislation. The university is disputing CUPE 1975’s position and is adamant that the institution is a public employer and that CUPE 1975 members provide critical essential services to ensure the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and the public, including patients at health facilities on our premises. This dispute is now in front of an Essential Services Tribunal for a binding decision. This process began via conference call on February 4 and next steps were outlined. CUPE 1975 will submit its argument to the Tribunal by February 15, and the university has until February 25 to respond. The hearing will recommence with the preliminary motion on February 28. Next steps will be outlined following their ruling.

In addition to addressing the dispute regarding essential services, there is an outstanding matter pending before the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board. This is a matter relating to scope/jurisdiction involving the university, CUPE 1975 and ASPA, and is unrelated to the collective bargaining process. Until this matter is heard and/or dismissed, CUPE 1975 is not in a legal position to take job action. CUPE 1975 is required to file a written submission to the SK LRB by February 22 and the university has until March 1 to issue its written response.

January 31, 2019

University’s response to CUPE's proposed Joint Sponsored Defined Benefit Pension Plan

CUPE 1975 proposed a Joint Sponsored Defined Benefit Pension Plan to the university on Dec. 12, 2018.

The university acknowledges CUPE 1975’s efforts in the most recent proposal from earlier proposals, but the Joint Sponsored Defined Benefit Pension Plan doesn’t effectively address the issue of cost certainty the university needs in the current challenging economic environment.

The primary reasons for rejecting the proposed plan was:

  • CUPE’s proposal was structured in a way that it was not a true Jointly Sponsored Pension Plan. All of the Canadian Jointly Sponsored Pension Plans referenced in CUPE's proposal contain provisions where both member and employer share in deficits and surplus. However, CUPE’s proposal has the employer sharing the deficit risk but never sharing in the surplus benefits. Since surpluses are spent on member benefits, this actually increases the university's risk over time because of the natural cycles of deficits and surpluses. It also increases the chance that the university and employee’s contribution rates will rise in the near future.
  • CUPE’s proposal was still a Defined Benefit pension plan, with no limit on the university’s potential contribution rate. Additionally, due to federal and provincial pension plan regulations, limits are placed on the amount plan members can actually contribute towards a deficit, which still leaves the university with increased financial responsibility in the event that the plan is in a dire financial position.
  • The plan’s proposed governance structure presents complexities that could result in ongoing contentious decision making between CUPE and the university around the plan
  • The proposed plan has the potential to greatly increase the administrative complexity required to manage it, which results in higher cost.

Proceeding with a Jointly Sponsored pension arrangement does not provide the cost certainty and governance simplicity that the university is seeking, which can be accomplished through the pension plan options that were proposed by the university. CUPE 1975’s pension proposal, which remains a Defined Benefit pension plan, would still not be fiscally responsible and financially sustainable. The university values its employees and believes they deserve fair and reasonable employment terms and conditions, including a competitive pension plan that is affordable for both the university and our employees.

Since 2010, the university has contributed an additional $29.8 million in addition to its regular contributions.

January 25, 2019

Earlier today the parties met to continue discussions around essential services with the help of the mediator. Essential services negotiations have concluded but an agreement was not reached.

Negotiating and establishing an Essential Services Agreement is a critical step in the collective bargaining process and may be required by employers and bargaining units under The Saskatchewan Employment Act in order to ensure safety and security of the public.

Late in this current round of collective bargaining, the Canadian Union of Public Employees 1975 (CUPE 1975) has argued that the University of Saskatchewan, and in effect its own members of CUPE 1975, do not provide essential services. With this, CUPE 1975 has indicated an Essential Services Agreement between the parties is not required under the provincial legislation. The university is disputing CUPE 1975’s position and is adamant that the institution is a public employer and that CUPE 1975 members provide critical essential services to ensure the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and the public, including patients at health facilities on our premises. The parties will be placing this dispute in front of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (SK LRB) for a binding decision.

January 24, 2019

Mediation has concluded—The university and CUPE 1975 met earlier today with the Ministry-appointed mediator. After seven days of mediated discussion, including proposals from both sides, the mediator deemed that the parties are unable to reach a successful outcome through this process and concluded mediation.

During the mediation process, the parties discussed outstanding items that included: wage adjustments, a new market-based compensation model and pension matters. Despite respectable concessions proposed by both the university and CUPE 1975 throughout the mediation process, the parties were not able to eliminate the gap that continues to exist around the pension-related matters.

Over the past decade, the university has worked in good faith with CUPE 1975 in an attempt to find solutions to the significant financial issues related to the current defined benefit pension plan which has cost the university an additional $29.8 million in contributions beyond normal contributions over the past decade ($3.1 million in 2018). These significant additional contributions are expected to continue into the future under the pension’s current structure, while the university continues to face financial pressures and challenges within the current economic environment.

CUPE 1975 remains our only labour group in an open defined benefit pension plan, a plan type that has been on the decline over the past number of years across the country due to the issues of financial sustainability and affordability. It is not fiscally responsible, nor is it financially sustainable, for the university to continue with the current CUPE 1975 defined benefit pension plan. As confirmed in the arbitration decision from 2017, the university has the right to make changes to the plan in order to address these financial concerns. Throughout the process we sought several opportunities to develop a pension plan that would be fiscally responsible and financially sustainable for the university.

Considering all of these factors, along with our desire to provide our employees with a competitive and equitable offer, the university submitted a counter-proposal that it believes provides an appropriate balance.

Rejected Offers 

CUPE’s bargaining team rejected both 

  • Option A – the university’s preferred pension outcome
  • Option B, which the university considered a compromise in hopes of resolving the pension matter with CUPE

The university believes all employees who are members of CUPE 1975 have the right to review and understand the offer that was tabled. Here are the highlights:

Option A Option B
Lump-sum payment of $3,000 in lieu of retro pay with agreement on a Target Date Defined Contribution pension plan (with matching contribution rate of 6.82%) Lump-sum payment of $1,500 in lieu of retro pay with agreement on a Target Benefit pension provision (with matching contribution rate of 7.5%).

Both Options A and B would include:

  • 2% wage increases in 2019 and 2020 
  • Salary model changes that open salary ranges for more growth
  • An increase from $200 to $400 for flexible spending accounts (health or personal)
  • Days off with pay at Christmas (no longer required to use vacation or banked time)
  • Changes to vacation model: 
    • 25 vacation days after 14 years of service
    • 30 vacation days after 22 years of service 

Offer to Settle Option A Highlights Option B Highlights

All University of Saskatchewan employees are critical to advancing the university’s mission and vision, and we value everyone’s contributions. Employees deserve fair and reasonable employment terms and conditions, including a competitive pension plan that is affordable for the university. Though mediation was not successful, the university remains committed to continuing negotiations with CUPE 1975 in hopes that an agreement can be reached.

Given the conclusion of mediation, both parties are subject to a 7-14 day cooling off period where no job action can occur.

The university will continue to work with CUPE 1975 to establish an essential services framework.  It is the university’s position that the essential services framework must be in place prior to any job action.  Once CUPE 1975 is in a legal position to take job action, they are required to provide the university with 48 hours’ notice before doing so. If this occurs, the university will inform students, faculty and staff by email. Updates will continue to be posted here. 

The university continues contingency planning to ensure minimal disruption to operations and services in the event of job action. The university will remain open and classes will continue, regardless of job action.

2018 Updates

December 13, 2018

Mandatory mediation continued through the week of December 10th. The parties have agreed to continue mandatory mediation with dates scheduled through January 2019.


December 12, 2018

The university and CUPE 1975 met today to continue mediation with the Ministry appointed mediator. Mediation will continue on Thursday, December 13.


December 10, 2018

The University of Saskatchewan and CUPE 1975 continue negotiations to reach a new contract with the help of a Ministry appointed mediator. While we understand that CUPE 1975 has received a strike mandate from their members, it remains our goal to reach an agreement through the collective bargaining process.

The outstanding point of negotiation is regarding the Non-Academic Pension Plan, which has cost the University an additional $29.7 million beyond normal contributions over the past decade ($3.1 million in 2017), and these significant additional contributions are expected to continue moving forward under the pension’s current structure. These are funds that are being diverted from the University’s teaching and research mission.

For the past decade, the University has been working with CUPE 1975 in an effort to implement changes to the Non Academic Pension Plan to ensure that members have a pension that they can rely on for a comfortable and secure retirement, and that is financially sustainable for everyone.

Mediation is set to continue on December 12, 2018. All services on campus are operating as normal.


November 23, 2018 

Following mediation on November 16, 2018, the university and CUPE 1975 bargaining teams continued to engage in discussions with the mediator. It was agreed that mediation will continue on December 12, 13 and 14, 2018. Essential services negotiations commenced on November 22 and 23, 2018.    


November 16, 2018 

The university and CUPE 1975 met today to continue mediation with the Ministry appointed mediator. After reviewing the university’s offer to settle, CUPE tabled a comprehensive counter proposal for the university to consider. The parties have agreed not to share specifics of the proposals publicly during mediation. Mediation will continue on November 22, 2018. 


November 1, 2018 

The university and CUPE 1975 met today to begin mediation with the Ministry appointed mediator. The university tabled an updated offer to settle. CUPE 1975 has requested time to review and consider the updated offer. Mediation will continue on November 16, 2018.


October 23, 2018

What is mandatory mediation?
After a union and employer reach an impasse at the bargaining table a mediator is appointed by the Ministry; dates scheduled for mediation; mediation occurs and deemed successful if parties reach an agreement; or deemed unsuccessful and called off by the mediator (no strike or lock-out is permitted during this time). During this process the mediator acts a neutral third party, guiding unions and employers through disputes in an effort to resolve any outstanding issues.

The Saskatchewan Employment Act allows for a maximum of 60 days mediation at which point the mediator is required to provide a report, recommendation or decision to the minister. Mediation is only extended beyond 60 days if both parties agree that they require additional time for further discussions. If the mediator deems the parties cannot reach a successful outcome through this process, the mediator can immediately conclude mediation at any time within the 60 day period.

The university and CUPE 1975 are scheduled to begin mediation on November 1 and 2, 2018. The university’s goal remains to reach an agreement through the collective bargaining process.

October 16, 2018

The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board has appointed a mediator to assist the university and CUPE 1975 in reaching a new collective agreement. The parties will meet for mediation on November 1 and 2, 2018. The university’s goal remains to reach an agreement through the collective bargaining process.  


October 2, 2018

The University of Saskatchewan and CUPE 1975 are working toward a new contract. Negotiations have reached an impasse at the table, but the bargaining process is still ongoing and will continue next with mandatory mediation. The university understands that CUPE has received a strike mandate from their members, but it remains our goal to reach an agreement through the collective bargaining process. The university has begun, and will continue, its contingency planning to ensure minimal disruption to operations and services in the event of job action.


September 24, 2018

The following are provided to correct misinformation that is circulating about the Non Academic Pension Plan.

Non Academic Pension Plan Facts

1. You will not lose your pension. The defined benefit pension that you have earned up to the point of any changes to the plan CANNOT be changed and is payable monthly for your lifetime. You will always have a DB portion of your pension. Your monthly payment from the DB part of your pension will also continue to grow because it will be based on highest 48 consecutive months of earnings at the U of S. 

2. The university wants all employees to have a financially sound pension plan. The university has been exploring solutions both outside and inside of bargaining with CUPE 1975 for 10 years to make the Non Academic Pension Plan sustainable while still providing a competitive and valuable pension for you. We are considering a defined contribution provision to your pension plan as a possible avenue, which is the same as all of your co-worker’s pension plans at the U of S.

3. The university has always been open to discussing the pension plan with CUPE 1975. In August 2017 prior to the arbitrator’s ruling, the university tabled an alternative pension design proposal with CUPE 1975, which was rejected. The university has been exploring solutions both outside and inside of negotiations with CUPE 1975 for 10 years to make the Non Academic Pension Plan sustainable while still providing a competitive and valuable pension for you.

4. The University has always had the right to amend this pension plan. The arbitration decision did not give the university the right, it only confirmed the university’s existing right to reform the Non Academic Pension Plan. While the arbitration decision confirmed that the university has authority to reform the Non Academic Pension Plan, and the university has developed plans to do so, these plans and the required amendments have not yet been approved.

5. The university did not take a contribution holiday. The university has always made its matching contributions, using plan surplus ONLY to make improvements and secure your pension plan. When the plan was in a surplus, the university used the funds to:

  • establish reserves in the plan up the maximum amount allowed by the Canadian Revenue Agency
  • cover the service cost shortfalls in the plan each year
  • establish reserves for cost of living increases for those receiving pension 
  • retroactively increase the pension formula from 1.5% to 2.0% for all service to ensure all active members were at the same rate

All of these actions were reported to the provincial pension regulator as part of our annual reporting requirements. The university annually reports on all financial aspects of the plan with the provincial pension regulator, including use of surplus, and have always been in compliance. 

6. This pension plan is not in a surplus. Valuations for accounting purposes show a surplus, but this is not the whole picture. We are required by law to fund the plan based on actuarial valuations that look at the long-term viability of the plan to make sure we have enough money to pay for all future pension payments. On that basis, the plan is running both a deficit and a shortfall each year. While both valuations are correct, we are required to fund the plan on this long-term valuation.

7. This pension plan is in a deficit and running an annual shortfall. Changes to the plan are necessary to address the ongoing deficit and financial risk that is growing within the plan. Between 2010-17, the University has contributed $26.7 million in addition to its regular contributions to cover shortfalls and accumulated deficits of the plan, with an additional $3.1 million payment being made in 2018.

8. Current pensioners will not be affected by any future changes. Any changes to the plan would not affect retirees or members with deferred vested pensions (i.e., members who elected a deferred pension when they left the University).

9. Saskatchewan has some of the top defined contribution pension plans in Canada. Three of the top 10 defined contribution plans in Canada belong to Saskatchewan organizations. The combined U of S Money Purchase and Research Pension plan is number 11 with over $775 million in assets.


September 19, 2018

Contract Negotiation at an Impasse

  • On September 14, the university tabled an “Offer to Settle” the current contract negotiations
  • CUPE 1975 reviewed and rejected the “Offer to Settle” and notified the government of an impasse
  • We are aware that a strike vote is scheduled for September 27 and 28

Offer highlights

  • $1,500 lump sum payment in lieu of retroactive pay (prorated based on FTE)
  • Change in salary model – opens salary ranges for growth
  • 2019: 2% salary increase
  • 2020: 2% salary increase
  • Increase in flexible spending to $400/year
  • Days off with pay for Christmas break (not using vacation or banked time)
  • 25 vacation days after 14 years of service (was 17)
  • 30 vacation days after 22 years of service (was 23)

Supporting Documents

Next Steps After Impasse

At a high level, the following steps are legislated in Saskatchewan after an impasse has been declared through notification to the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. In terms of timing for a union to be in the position of conducting any form of job action, the following steps must occur. 

  • Mandatory mediation: a mediator is appointed by Ministry; dates scheduled for mediation; mediation occurs and deemed successful if parties reach an agreement; or deemed unsuccessful and called off by the mediator (no strike or lock-out is permitted during this time)
  • Mandatory Cooling Off Period: if mediation is unsuccessful, a mandatory cooling-off period is required (no strike or lock-out is permitted during this time)
  • 48 Hours Notice: after the cooling-off period ends, the union is required to provide the employer with 48 hours notice of intended job action, including date and time it is to commence (no strike or lock-out is permitted during this time)
  • Essential Services Agreement (ESA): at any point during the above steps, the parties may enter into negotiations to establish an Essential Services Agreement; if the parties cannot successfully reach an ESA, a tribunal is established to listen to the parties’ interests/needs and issue a binding decision on the ESA (no strike or lock-out is permitted during this time).

June 25, 2018 

Bargaining

Negotiations for a new collective agreement are ongoing, with the parties exchanging their respective monetary proposals and counter-proposals.


2017 Updates

December 14, 2017

Bargaining

Collective Agreement Expired Jan 1, 2015

Bargaining began in the spring where the university team tabled the following interests for negotiation:

  • Improvements that support internal workforce mobility;
  • Enhancing our ability to recruit the best/brightest staff;
  • Long-term financial sustainability, including addressing the risks and liability associated with the defined benefit pension plan and reductions in overall benefits plan and salary structures.

As reported on Tuesday, December 12, the University of Saskatchewan received an arbitration decision in favour of the university’s ability to introduce changes to its non-academic pension plan (NAPP).

The key details include:
  1. The U of S faces a deficit and increasing financial risk associated with its only remaining “open” (accepting new members) defined benefit pension plan—the Non-Academic Pension Plan (NAPP).
  2. At the U of S, the only other defined benefit pension plan was closed and all other pension plans moved to defined contribution almost twenty years ago.
  3. The NAPP continues to accept new members and currently serves approximately 1,300 active members and 1,000 pensioners.
  4. The active members are employees who are primarily members of CUPE 1975. This plan also includes some members of the Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) as well as some staff who are exempt of any bargaining unit.
  5. The university and CUPE 1975 have been unable to agree on a path forward for the NAPP after close to ten years of discussions.
  6. While the arbitrator’s decision confirms the university’s ability to introduce changes, the U of S is committed to continuing discussions with CUPE 1975 to explore potential options and changes to the plan that are agreeable to both parties.
  7. All pension benefits that members of the NAPP are entitled to, up to the point of any change to the plan, are protected by legislation.
  8. Approximately 3.5% ($10.6M) of the university’s annual operating grant is used to fund the NAPP, which includes both the university’s matching contribution (8.5%) as well as all special payments currently being made to the Plan (7.15%). The current deficit of the plan totals $21M, and the university is paying approximately $5M of additional contributions into the plan each year.
  9. With the current NAPP and recent enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan, long-term employees may receive more income in retirement than when they were actively working.
  10. The university is committed to providing benefits, including pension plans, that are competitive and attractive to our employees, and in order to continue to do so, it is critical that these plans are financially sustainable. Changes are necessary to address the deficit and serious financial risk within the NAPP.

The university and the union met to negotiate for a total of six days throughout September, October and November and discussed some basic housekeeping items (e.g. temporary performance of higher duties, special leave, compassionate care leave) and more substantive items such as:

  • the concept of secondments of permanent staff in permanent positions to term positions; the advantages of secondment arrangements include career development, promotional opportunities and job security (to permanent position);
  • the concept of a new market-driven salary structure;
  • revamping of language around hours of work and EDO schedules;
  • an overview of the university's budget/funding model, budgetary processes and financial state was provided to the parties by the Controller's Office.

Early Retirement Incentive Program

173 Employees applied for the incentivized retirement plan. All eligible applicants will be accepted.

Grievances

Currently, there are 13 active grievances/arbitrations. Most grievances are around performance management and disciplinary/termination matters.

The university and the union met to negotiate for a total of six days throughout September, October and November and discussed some basic housekeeping items (e.g. temporary performance of higher duties, special leave, compassionate care leave) and more substantive items such as:


December 12, 2017

The following message was sent to all members of the Non-Academic Pension Plan, which includes members of CUPE 1975, As well as some members of the ASPA and exempt groups.

Dear Pension Plan Members

Today we received an arbitration decision that confirms the university’s ability to introduce amendments to the Non-Academic Pension Plan (NAPP) of which you are a member.
Your pension plan has not been changed. The university is committed to continuing discussions with CUPE 1975 to explore potential options and changes to the plan that are agreeable to both parties.
It is also important for you to know that all pension benefits you are entitled to up to the point of any change to the plan, are protected by legislation.
The university seeks to provide benefits, including pension plans, that are competitive and attractive to our staff and faculty, and in order to continue to do so, it is critical that these plans are financially sustainable. Changes are necessary to address the deficit and serious financial risk within the NAPP.
Pension plan details are available online.
Questions can be referred to the pensions office at pensions.inquiries@usask.ca.
Sincerely,
Cheryl Carver
Associate Vice-President People and Resources
University of Saskatchewan

September 19, 2017

Volunteer Exit Package

  • 173 members of CUPE 1975 have been approved for the Voluntary Exit and Retirement program.
  • People and Resources is working with colleges and units to address changes to work assignments for those who are leaving and for positions that will be replaced. The savings for the program will be contingent on these outcomes.

Non-academic Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan - Grievance Update

We continue to await the outcome of the grievance arbitration that will determine whether the University has the right to unilaterally make changes to the Non-academic DB pension plan.

What you need to know
  • All pension benefits accrued to date by current employees under the pension plan are protected and will not change, regardless of the outcome of this grievance.
  • Changes to the Non-academic DB Pension Plan are necessary to address the deficit and serious financial risk that is growing within the plan.
  • The university will continue to work toward reaching an agreeable solution with respect to the sustainability of the Non-Academic DB Pension Plan with CUPE 1975, regardless of the outcome of this grievance.

Bargaining

The Collective Agreement expired December 31, 2015 and the parties continue the negotiations for a new collective agreement.


July 25, 2017

Early Retirement Incentive Program

To date, approximately 90 of the 350 eligible employees have expressed interest in the early retirement package offered at the beginning of July. Applications will be accepted until the end of July. 

Bargaining

Collective bargaining is scheduled to resume in late August.


June 27, 2017

Early Retirement Incentive Program

Under Article 19.7 of the CUPE collective agreement, The University has offered early retirement packages to a group of approximately 350 CUPE 1975 employees who are eligible for retirement under the terms of the defined benefit pension plan.

Bargaining

Collective bargaining will resume in August. As part of its focus, The University will be considering the long-term sustainability of benefits and pension plans.


May 30, 2017

Early Retirement Incentive Program

The university and CUPE 1975 were unable to come to an agreement regarding language in the voluntary exit program. CUPE executive required guarantees that the university would not contract out any services as a result of exits. This type of guarantee is too restrictive at a time when the university must find savings in order to preserve its core mission.

Bargaining

Bargaining is ongoing. The parties have identified the broader issues to be tabled at this round.

Non-academic Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan - Grievance Update

As previously reported, the university sought an arbitrator’s decision on clarification regarding the university’s ability to unilaterally amend the CUPE 1975 pension plan. The grievance was heard in March and we are awaiting the arbitrator’s decision.


February 21, 2017

Bargaining

  • The university and the union attended a joint session hosted by the Ministry of Labour which was well received by both parties and helped set the tone for bargaining, set to commence in March.
  • The university has begun consultations with individual colleges and units.

2016 Updates

November 29, 2016

Bargaining

  • The university and CUPE 1975 agreed to postpone collective bargaining until January 2017, due to the outstanding grievance arbitration concerning pension matters.
  • Hearing dates were initially scheduled in September 2016, however due to on-going discussions by the parties over preliminary matters, the hearing dates have been postponed until April 24-28, 2017.
  • Considering the relevance and impact the Employer grievance has on collective bargaining, the Employer has sought to have the Employer grievance heard before April, 2017. The parties are currently working with the arbitration board to find an earlier date for the hearing.
  • The university and CUPE 1975 are in the process of scheduling dates in January 2017 to open collective bargaining.

October 18, 2016

CUPE 1975/ASPA Jurisdiction

The university, ASPA and CUPE 1975 have agreed in principle to a resolution regarding jurisdiction matters between ASPA and CUPE 1975. We are working with the unions to finalize the agreement.


July 26, 2016

Bargaining

Both parties have agreed to delay bargaining discussions until Jan. 2017.


June 28, 2016

Arbitration

Arbitration panels have been selected and dates to discuss outstanding issues are scheduled for September.


May 17, 2016

Bargaining

Bargaining will begin in June.


April 19, 2016

Arbitration

Arbitration panels to discuss unresolved matters regarding the interpretation of the CUPE 1975 pension plan have been selected and meeting dates are being scheduled. It is likely that a hearing will occur in September.

Bargaining

The university and the union are looking to schedule bargaining dates in June, to discuss other pertinent issues.


March 22, 2016

Non-academic Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan

  • There are a number of unresolved matters regarding the interpretation of the CUPE 1975 pension plan that the university and the union are hoping can be solved by arbitration panels.
  • Regardless of the outcome of the arbitration process, it will be important to work with CUPE 1975 regarding future steps in this process. Bargaining is scheduled to commence in April.

February 23, 2016

Non-academic Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan

Different interpretations of language regarding pension persist between the university and CUPE 1975. A labour arbitration pane has been selected to hear these issues and meeting dates are currently being scheduled.


January 26, 2016

Non-academic Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan

The university and the union have asked a labour arbitration panel to settle different interpretations of language regarding pension.

2015 Updates

May 15, 2015

Jurisdiction Review

Mediation regarding the jurisdiction of positions continues with CUPE Local 1975, ASPA and the university. The Mediator has provided a draft agreement for the parties to consider regarding the appropriate boundaries of the bargaining units and implementation of any changes.

Bargaining

No tables open at this time