Negotiators for The Works and CUPE have reached another tentative agreement. This marks the third tentative agreement the parties have reached in the past two weeks. The two previous agreements were rejected by the members.
The Works is the recreation complex at Memorial University that includes the Field House, the Aquarena and other services. Its 299 maintenance, aquatic, fitness, food and customer service employees are represented by CUPE Local 3336.
Bill Thistle, chairman of the volunteer board that manages The Works, welcomed the tentative agreement. “I know that our negotiating team and the CUPE team have worked very hard to get to this agreement,” he said.
The agreement will now go to the membership for a ratification vote and while he wouldn’t disclose details of the agreement, Mr. Thistle did have some advice for the workers.
“I want to caution the union members that this tentative agreement is as good as it gets,” said Mr. Thistle. “We’ve been able to offer retroactive wage increases that are competitive. But if this is rejected and the workers go on strike, those increases and the retro pay will be off the table. We simply won’t be in a position to afford those.”
Mr. Thistle explained that 90 per cent of the revenues for The Works come from user fees. “A strike would have a massive negative impact on membership and our revenues,” he said. “This is a very competitive industry. Our business model is based on memberships, superb service and unique facilities. If we lose members now, we lose them long term and without that revenue, there will be no money to pay retroactivity or future increases.”
Mr. Thistle asked employees to follow the lead of their negotiating team and union leaders and ratify the agreement. “Together we have put together an attractive contract that is fair to the workers,” he said. “Their leaders recognize that. It’s also the best we can do. With a strike, any future offer would by necessity be something less. So I’m hopeful the workers will recognize this.”
The Works is managed as a separately incorporate entity of Memorial University by a volunteer board of directors that includes representatives of the university, undergraduate and graduate students, the City of St. John’s and the general community.