U of O support workers reject school’s final offer


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Members of the union representing support staff at uOttawa have overwhelmingly rejected the school’s final offer to settle contract talks that began more than a year ago.

The bargaining unit called PSUO-SSUO (Support Staff University of Ottawa in English) announced in a tweet Friday evening that its 1,300 members had rejected the university’s so-called “final offer” by an 80 per cent vote. Members look after administration, help with student academic support and provide mental health counselling.

Among the issues under discussion are the number of unfilled union positions at the school and changes to benefits such as prescription drug payments and retirement allowances. The union was urging members to vote no as a way to get the university back to the bargaining table.

According to the union, the university’s offer was guided by Ontario’s Bill 124, which limits most increases to salary and benefit packages in the public sector to one per cent during a three-year “moderation” period. The unit, part of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, also argues that, contrary to the university’s position, the 14-month bargaining window is not extraordinarily long compared to those in earlier contracts.

The final offer was put to the union in April and voting was concluded Friday. No new bargaining dates have been set, and the union says it also wants to discuss safe return-to-work policies during the ongoing pandemic.