By Maurice Cacho
Associate News Editor
The executive directors of the Ryerson Students’ Union are set to become unionized employees, pending approval from CUPE.
RSU President Rebecca Rose said the unionization of the executive directors will build consistency in the organization.
“It does protect them from the political whims of executives coming in,” Rose said. “There’s a lot of turnover and this makes sure we have some institutional memory in the senior supervisory roles.”
Executive directors are not usually students and are hired from outside Ryerson. However, the president of University of Toronto’s Student Administrative Council said unionizing has its drawbacks.
The organization’s equivalent of RSU’s executive director is not unionized. “Obviously there’s concerns that it can be more difficult to terminate someone if they’re unionized,” said Paul Bretscher, president of U of T SAC. “If someone does a good job in writing the collective agreement, then it’s not generally a problem. If someone writes a poor collective agreement, that’s where those issues come up.”
Former RSU Board of Directors member Nick Gauthier agrees. “The onus is on a good government to hire people who do not have a political motivation,” he said. “The staff people get a lot of protection from the union, and you can see that in … (a staff member) using the union to help (his or her) argument” against a fellow employee, he said.
A staff member recently filed a grievance against a former Women’s Centre co-ordinator, who was subsequently banned from RSU offices.
But Rose refutes this, saying it will not be the case. “When positions are unionized you still have means to discipline people. It just means those reasons have to be with cause,” she said. “They can be disciplined and let go, it just has to be for pretty legitimate reasons. “This isn’t a massive front-page news story. This is something we’re doing on the inside,” she added.
She also believes high-quality candidates will be attracted to a unionized job and won’t want to work for only a high wage. Gauthier agrees. “If they’re applying for the job it’s really not for the money or for padding the resume,” said Gauthier, who has worked for the RSU.
“It hasn’t helped me all that much, I haven’t gotten all that far.”
RSU advertised the executive director positions on Charity Village for about a week. Ryerson politics professor Neil Thomlinson finds this troubling.
“That almost would suggest that they’ve got people in mind for the position already,” Thomlinson said. “If you were going to advertise a fairly senior management position, five days would be a very short window.”
Two successful candidates, one communications director and one operations and services director, will be hired in the next month, Rose said.