After a spirited organizing drive led by the University of Toronto Staff Association, administrative and technical staff at the University of Toronto voted in 1998 to join the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), Local 1998 was born.
In 1999, members at University of Victoria and University of St. Michael’s College also voted to join USW and we became an amalgamated Local.
Staff were motivated by wage cuts, job security, lack of consistency in how rules were applied in the workplace, arbitrary changes to sick leave and the lack of a mechanism to stand up and fight back in a meaningful way.
Over the years we have consistently bargained contracts improving the wages, benefits and working conditions for our members.
In 1998, it may have been an odd choice for a largely white-collar, female-dominated workforce to join an industrial union like the Steelworkers. A lot has changed in twenty years. In addition to our own Local, USW represents university workers at Queen’s, University of Guelph, and is organizing universities in the United States. The three largest sectors in USW are now health care, telecommunications and education.
For the full story, check out our special 20th Anniversary issue of SteelDrum.