By Adrian Morrow
The Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) insurance broker has been accused of quoting them the wrong price, then adding extra fees after the union agreed to sign up with them.
The broker has been known for handing out rewards to student executives who sign up with them.
They even sued the RSU a few years ago.
But the RSU is considering a proposal to sign a new contract with Gallivan and Associates.
Board member Abdullah Snobar wants to renew the student union’s contract with the broker, which negotiates the health and dental plan, to prevent the RSU from using the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) as its broker.
“As soon as you sign students up with the CFS health and dental plan, students are dependent on the CFS,” said Snobar, who opposes the CFS on the grounds that the national student lobby group interferes too much in individual student unions.
The RSU has been with Gallivan since 2000, when it signed a five-year contract.
Two years later, the RSU negotiated a better deal with a different broker, but was swiftly sued for breach of contract. Gallivan collected $35,000 of RSU cash.
When the RSU signed its second deal with Gallivan in 2004, some then-board members allege the company quoted them a price that didn’t include commissions and premiums. The RSU didn’t discover the full price of the deal until after they had signed the contract.
Gallivan has also been criticized for offering perks and jobs to student executives who got their unions to sign with the company.
The broker hired former RSU president Cory Wright as an executive less than a year after the union entered its first contract with the company.
In 2004, Gallivan gave three McMaster Students’ Union leaders tickets to the World Cup of Hockey when they were negotiating a new contract with the company.
Snobar, however, argues that Gallivan isn’t all bad, and that the CFS offers the same kinds of backroom perks as Gallivan — numerous student executives who have backed the CFS over the years received paid jobs with the organization after graduation.
“Everybody that helped the CFS get somewhere got a job with the CFS,” he said.
RSU VP finance and services Toby Whitfield doesn’t want the union to sign another contract with Gallivan right away.
Instead, he wants to make brokers bid for the contract. In addition to Gallivan and the CFS, there are a handful of other companies that could bid for the contract.
“I think we should choose a broker who can give us the best competitive rate,” he said. “We need to explore and see who has the best deal.”
Jeremy Salter, executive director of the York Federation of Students, a long time activist with the CFS and VP finance of the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR), suggests that the RSU might not be getting the best deal with Gallivan.
York students pay $209 per year for their health and dental plan, while Ryerson students pay $295 for a similar plan. CESAR got a quote from the CFS for a plan that would cost $100 less than the RSU’s similar plan with Gallivan.
Snobar has drafted a motion for the RSU’s Oct. 29 board meeting. If it passes, the RSU will move to sign a new contract with Gallivan.
If it fails, Whitfield will call for insurance brokers to bid for the contract.