Greeting CUPE 1975 members,
I hope this message finds you all healthy and safe. COVID-19 continues to impact many places in the world and we are no exception at the University of Saskatchewan. We have received many inquires about time lines and, unfortunately, I don’t think anyone has the answers to the question of “when will things return to normal.” The University continues to have updates on their website in regard to COVID-19, but I think until a vaccine is developed and mass produced, we will continue to be in some what of a holding pattern. It was shared with us at a recent reopen meeting that some institutions have reopened, and then afterwards needed to scale back their operations as COVID-19 made a reappearance in their mist.
At a recent reopen meeting with senior Human Resources, it was shared that over 300 positions on campus were on a temporary lay-off through the first few months and I suspect the majority of those were CUPE members. At our most recent reopen meeting, one month ago, it was shared that there were approximately 150 members whose temporary lay-offs were extended and I know that a number of those temporary lay-off positions have since received a recall date. Some departments have elected to do some permanent lay-offs and those members affected are offered the protection under article 12 in our Collective Agreement. Article 12 speaks to the rights you have under our Collective Agreement. If you are a permanent employee in a permanent position and your position is being eliminated you have the option to take a severance pay out, of two weeks of pay for every year of service, increasing to 3 weeks of pay to every year of service for those employees with over 19 years of employment at the University. If you wish to continue working at the University, you have the option of either placement or bumping. Placement involves you applying for vacant positions on campus, which there are very few right now. The bumping language states that you will be offered two choices of positions to bump into within 21 calendar days. If your position gets eliminated you will have a Human Resources SBA and a Union Representative assigned to you to help you understand the process and what your choices are.
Some people have asked whether any retirement packages will be offered on campus. Facilities is looking to reduce their work force and have offered a voluntary severance package to some, but not all, departments. This monetary package is the same amount that you would receive in a severance if your position was eliminated. Those members in those areas impacted have until Monday morning to submit their names to Facilities but there is no guarantee that your request will be accepted. If you didn’t receive an email or phone call from your Supervisor/Manager in your area, it means that positions are not being eliminated in your area. If you apply for the package and you are turned down, it means that your position is not being eliminated. Those probably that are entertaining applying for the package are ones that are close to retirement age, have other sources of income, have many years of accrued service in our old defined benefit pension plan, etc.
What happens with my pension if I leave the University? Everyone that was previously enrolled in the non-academic pension plan, would have received a statement from the pension office at the start of 2020. This statement was what you had accrued within the plan up to December of 2019. The monthly pay out in retirement will be very similar to this figure if you access your pension if you leave work at the University and have satisfied the requirements of EARLY RETIREMENT. This means you are 60 years old, or have 30 pensionable years, or age and years of service equals 80. If you have not reached one of those requirements, you will be penalized a little bit for it and receive less money from your pension. The CAAT pension plan that we are enrolled in since last fall probably won’t pay out much to any of you at this time if you choose to retire as you haven’t contributed much to it.
We have also been asked how long someone can remain on temp lay-off? We have asked that question of Human Resources and the answer we have received is that they feel as long as this pandemic is in place it can continue indefinitely. We do not have a legal opinion from our CUPE lawyers but we are seeing some departments conducting permanent lay-offs which at least gives the member laid off the 3 options under Article 12. With the bumping option, if you have more seniority than others in your line of work, you could return to work within 21 days of exercising that option. To be clear, that will get you back in the work force, however, Human Resources makes it clear that it may not be your dream job/position. As many of you know by remaining at the University you have the ability to bid on other jobs positions and, if you are qualified, receive those positions over external candidates.
In closing, I wish all of you continued good health and if you have any questions regarding this or anything else, contact the Union office and we will be more than happy to answer them. I will also be posting an article in the future about grievances, how to file a grievance, what to expect when you approach the Grievance Committee, the process and time it can take to achieve any results, etc. I find the grievance process is very misunderstood amongst our members and especially the time required at times to get a resolve. Many of you may be interested in having a grievance filed on your behalf in the future and its good to know how the process works. Many people confuse what is a grievable issue with what could be a harassment charge and the process involved with that.
Acting President CUPE 1975
Room 21, McLean Hall
106 Wiggins Road
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E6