By Vanessa Greco
Eight members of the Student Campus Centre (SCC) management team finally have a union to call their own. But it’s not the one they applied for.
Last week the SCC management team was getting ready for a two-day hearing before the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), where they’d fight to certify with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
But the hearing was soon cancelled when CUPE withdrew their request to certify the 10-member management team. As a result, it was decided between their governing board, the Palin Foundation and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) that eight members of the SCC management team would unionize with OPSEU.
“CUPE provided no rationale for their withdrawal,” said Michael Verticchio, interim general manager at the SCC and Oakham House. “OPSEU has first rights because they represent all other employees in the student centre.”
Excluded from the unionization deal are Alana Corkery, Oakham House food and beverage manager, and Sajjad Sadiq, Oakham House finance manager. Verticchio said this is because they are fulfilling managerial duties such as hiring and firing.
Under the Labour Relations Act, managers cannot belong to unions, said Voy Stelmaszynski, Board Solicitor for the OLRB.
Discussions on how titles and responsibilities will change for the new union members are ongoing between the Palin Foundation’s board of directors and OPSEU. And because they weren’t disciplining, hiring or firing in the first place, their responsibilities shouldn’t change.
Like all union members, they are paying union dues and if needed OPSEU Local 596 is now there to represent them legally.
“They’re now in the same bargaining unit with their support staff,” said Jeremy Salter, chairperson on the Palin Foundation board of directors. “For example, if the union had to vote on something, the duty manager is now on an equal playing field as a server or bar staff.”
A union member cannot discipline, hire or fire another union member.
As well, Salters said that although titles of positions — such as duty manger or kitchen manager — might change, the responsibilities of the newly unionized SCC management team will not.
But according to Elizabeth Shilton, adjunct professor teaching labour law at the University of Toronto, it’s not unusual for employees to have titles that don’t reflect their functions.
“This happens all the time,” said Shilton. “The fact that they’re called managers doesn’t mean they are managers within the meaning of the Labour Relations Act.”
Whatever their titles may be, Louise Lichacz, chair of OPSEU Local 596, said she feels good about OPSEU’s new additions.
“They wanted a union. Well, now they have one,” she said. “Even though it may not be who they wanted.”
Support staff such as Oakham House Cafe and Ram in the Rye servers, kitchen staff and bar staff shouldn’t be affected by the unionization. They still report back and check in with the same supervisors.