A BRIEF History of NSGEU Local 77

"In November 1971, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) moved to unionize Dalhousie's non-academic employees, but in a heavy-handed way, assuming it had only to offer to be accepted."

(P.B. Waite, pg. 376)

Clerical and technical workers instead organized the Dalhousie Staff Association (DSA) in 1972. Undaunted, CUPE representatives passed around "information cards" that the workers were to read, sign, and return. What they neglected to mention was that the cards were official CUPE Local signing cards. CUPE then applied to the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board (NSLRB) in May 1974 to certify non-academic staff at Dalhousie as one of their locals, using the signed cards. The DSA was understandably upset!

According to labour law, a bargaining agent can be recognized either through certification with the NSLRB, or by an informal agreement between the employer and the employee group. Consequently, because Dalhousie voluntarily recognized the DSA as the bargaining agent for non-academic staff, the NSLRB refused CUPE's application and insisted on an impartial vote by the employees to decide between the DSA and CUPE. On September 5, 1974 the vote was held, and it confirmed the DSA as our exclusive bargaining agent.

It is interesting to note that one of the issues on the table during that first negotiation was job evaluation, an issue near and dear to our hearts to this day!

The first contract between the DSA and the Board of Governors was signed on May 2, 1975, covering the period between July 1, 1974 and June 30, 1977.

First DSA Contract Signed!

Signing the first DSA contract, May 2, 1975.
L-R: Mrs. HA MacDonald, Board of Governors; Mrs. Enid Jimenez, DSA President;
Dr. Henry Hicks, Dalhousie President; Ms. Suzanne Jodrey, DSA Secretary.
photograph courtesy of the Dalhousie University Archives Photographic Collection PC1 9.19

Here's a blast from our past! The Negotiating Team of 1981:

1981 DSA Negotiating Team

L-R: Ian Thomson, Theatre; Nancy Robb, University Libraries (Resigned);
Delphine du Toit, DSA Staff; Bob MacKay, Biology (Retired).
photograph courtesy of DSA Archives


The DSA held a rotating strike in January 1991 protesting inequitable wages and sick leave benefits.


image courtesy of DSA Archives

Click here to read the Gazette article

In late 1991 the DSA collectively felt that it was time to merge with a larger union in order to take advantage of the resources that would become available, including the advantage of having a stronger bargaining position. After some research and debate, talks were initiated with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU). The merger agreement was signed in the spring of 1994, retroactive to July 1, 1992. In the interim, the DSA negotiated a final contract on its own, covering the period from 1993-1997.

Merger Signing

Signing the merger agreement, February, 1994.
image courtesy of DSA Archives

The first contract negotiated as an NSGEU Local covered 1997-2001. Just prior to that round of bargaining, the government legislated the merger of Dalhousie with the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS). As a result, the negotiations became a massive effort to blend the DSA and TUNS contracts, a painstaking and protracted process. A Contract Review Committee was formed in May 1997 that reviewed each article individually. Negotiations began in November 1997 and finally ended with a new contract signed on February 3, 1999.

Since then Local 77 has ratified three contracts: 2001-2004, 2004-2007, and 2007-2010. The next round of bargaining will begin July 2010.

by Zita Hildebrandt
last updated 28-Aug-06

Waite, P.B. (1994) The Lives of Dalhousie University, Vol. II, Halifax: The Governors of Dalhousie College and University.


Historical Documents

Bargaining 2004
Bargaining 2001
Bargaining 1998
18-Aug-99 Joan Jessome's Letter
1992 NSGEU/DSA Merger Agreement
2007-2010 Contract
2004-2007 Contract
2001-2004 Contract
1997-2001 Contract
1991 Original DSA Contract