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APRIL 4TH 2017 UPDATE FROM CUPE 1281

On Friday, March 31, the Executive Board of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) voted to approve a motion that seeks to erode the job security of two full-time UTSU staff members.

The motion made by UTSU President-Elect Mathias Memmel calls on the UTSU to “cease to offer the services of a designated member of the full-time staff“ to both UTSU Clubs and Services and the UTSU Health and Dental Plan. The “designated staff members” in question are Vita, the Clubs Coordinator, and Maria, the Health and Dental Plan Coordinator. If the UTSU Executive Board does attempt to eliminate Vita and Maria’s positions they will be in violation of the collective agreement between CUPE 1281 and the UTSU, which provides UTSU staff with job security and protects them from arbitrary firing.

“CUPE 1281 will challenge their actions through our mutually agreed upon grievance procedure and other appropriate legal steps. But in the meantime, students will suffer as a result of the UTSU reducing the quality of services,” said Orion Keresztesi, President of CUPE 1281.  “Clubs can expect difficulties getting the supports they rely on from UTSU, and students will experience dramatically reduced support for accessing the coverage they need to get medical attention.”

“Mathias has attempted to word his motion to appear as a service reduction. However, this is deceptive. What Mathias is trying to initiate would be an illegal firing, not a layoff.”

Layoffs are defined by the Employment Standards Act and by the Collective Agreement between CUPE 1281 and the UTSU. The Collective Agreement also defines the mutually agreed upon process for initiating layoffs.

A layoff requires the intent to rehire, which is lacking in this case. The employer would have to prove that maintaining the position would cause the organization considerable hardship, and that they have no other option.

“Given that the UTSU is not eliminating their health and dental plan and not eliminating student groups, the work associated with those services still needs to get done,” said Keresztesi. “These are services that are very important to students. Student clubs value and rely on the work Vita does. Students need Maria’s support when they are seeking to address their medical needs.”

“It appears Mathias is trying to play word games to get rid of Vita and Maria for unclear reasons, and in the process he is paying little regard to the students who rely on Vita and Maria’s support. It is a disappointing tactic to come from a student leader.”

CUPE/SCFP Local 1281 is a chartered local union of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and represents workers at small non-profit and social justice workplaces.

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For further information, please contact

Orion Keresztesi, President CUPE 1281, president@cupe1281.ca