Tuesday July 7, 2020
Since the turnover of the Ryerson Students’ Union Executive Committee on May 1st, 2020, five full time employees who are members of CUPE 1281 have received layoff notices. The complement of full time unionized employees at this students’ union should be ten, but with two vacancies yet to be filled they are now reduced to only three. This is gutting the bargaining unit at this workplace. Two of the recently laid off members were offered to continue doing their jobs, but part-time and outside of the bargaining unit. This is union busting.
Laid off positions:
Across the university sector and with students’ unions specifically there have not been mass layoffs like this, even with the COVID-19 pandemic. The RSU has an obligation as a students’ union to adapt and continue to provide students with services and programming.
The rationale for the layoffs was lack of work, but do students not need access to the Good Food Centre (food bank) which they pay a dedicated levy for? Is the RSU not planning on engaging students by running online events, programming, or seeking sponsorship? Will campus groups not need the normal support they receive or training on RSU procedures and good governance? Is there really a great reduction in graphics or design work to be done? Will students not need access to CopyRITE, the print shop run by the RSU or will they be ending all operations? We worry that students at Ryerson were not consulted about these drastic cuts to their services and will wonder what they are paying for. It seems that all ideas to offer alternatives to in person service or run online events were not even considered by RSU Management.
For months now governments and economists have been cautioning against layoffs and encouraging employers to utilize wage subsidies to keep employees working as normal. This is a time where the economy should be strengthened by continuing full time employment wherever possible and yet the RSU makes this move to “restructure.” In an email to the RSU Board of Directors on June 22nd Ali Yousaf, RSU President, claims they are concerned about the RSU’s financial standing with a reduced enrollment forecast for the upcoming academic year. Remember this is after the RSU fees for the past year, which were not released by Ryerson University are now set to flow freely to the RSU because a new operating agreement with the university has been signed. The prediction that enrollment will drop in a substantial way this upcoming year is likely to be false as Ryerson saw an increase in enrollment for online courses for the Spring/Summer 2020 term. Jobs are scarce, travel is restricted, what else are people to do besides go to school and try to gain an edge with their qualifications and improve their skill sets.
CUPE 1281 sees these layoffs as very problematic as we recently supported the RSU in their legal battle against Ryerson University, which the RSU won. Now seeing the RSU cut full-time unionized positions is beyond frustrating. Will the President of the RSU hire his friends to do these jobs? We don’t know but we urge full time students at Ryerson to monitor this situation closely. CUPE 1281 is demanding the RSU to recall our members to maintain the important services and programming they run to support students.
RSU we are calling on you to reinstate your employees now!
Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1281