By Daniel Nolan | THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
McMaster University is offering casual cleaners a pay increase that will take them above the current Hamilton living wage instead of waiting until October 2015.
Their pay will go up once a new contract is ratified with the Building Union of Canada. The living wage is $14.95, according to research by the Social Planning and Research Council.
The proposal came Thursday at a meeting of the university and union with a mediator.
The university and union have been locked in a struggle for the last nine months over raises for the lowest-paid workers at McMaster. The union had said McMaster’s plan to bring the cleaners up to the living wage next year was not fast enough.
Last week, the union filed a complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Labour over the way McMaster has been negotiating with the workers. The university said in June if the workers did not accept the university’s final offer, their jobs would be contracted out.
The ministry launched an investigation and sealed the ballot boxes Tuesday morning in a final offer vote. McMaster’s tactic has been condemned by more than 200 McMaster faculty and other staff, as well as a Hamilton anti-poverty coalition.
Union president Craig Bromell said Thursday he was pleased by the university’s move toward the living wage issue.
“We applaud that,” he said. “That’s a good move, but we’re not done yet.”
He noted the issue impacted about 10 per cent of the bargaining unit. The union represents 260 cleaning and maintenance workers.
Bromell said the union’s complaint will be heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Aug. 26. He said no other meetings with a mediator are scheduled.
The university said in a release its offer “guarantees all members of the bargaining unit would immediately earn in excess of the current Hamilton living wage.”
McMaster and the union also signed an agreement prohibiting a strike, lockout or contracting out until Sept. 15 at the earliest.