By Ramisha Farooq
CUPE1281 workers, currently locked out of their jobs, protested outside the Continuing Education Students’ Association at Ryerson (CESAR) office on Oct. 28, asking CESAR executives to come back to the bargaining table.
This comes a few days after a decision by the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) to stop providing discounted metro passes to thousands of CESAR members.
Protestors brought with them a cake reading “Dear CESAR…” and several printed invitations that were later slipped under the office door as there were no employees or executives visibly present.
“CESAR takes the cake as the worst employer ever,” said Stephen Seaborn, vice president equity of Toronto CUPE local branch.
“I’ve never seen this kind of inhumane treatment in my life.” However, in an email to The Eyeopener, CESAR president Shinae Kim has said that the union has never requested that CESAR return to the bargaining until the protest.
“CESAR simply interpreted the silence as indicative of the union’s unwillingness to respond to the concerns raised by CESAR during that time,” said Kim.
“For the first time since the lockout, the union contacted us stating that the ‘union wishes to get back to the bargaining table’.” Kim also pointed out that there were no employees present in the office because the picketers obstructed an employee that was trying to enter the room with their chanting and taking photos.
The RSU is citing the labour dispute as a problem when providing services, like metropasses, to students.
“The RSU’s decision and inability to see past a labour dispute and look at the students who are being penalized due to their partisanship is a huge mistake,” said Kim.
“Clearly, RSU chose to side with CUPE1281 than serve the interest of the students at large.” RSU president Melissa Palermo has said in a statement that it is important to treat all full-time staff with dignity and respect asking that CESAR management can come to a resolution with member of CUPE 1281 as soon as possible.
“It’s a joint venture, it is staffed by unionized employees so it is difficult for our employees to provide that service,” said Palermo.
“It is unfortunate that this has had to happen and we are encouraging students to raise their concerns or if they have any questions to bring those to CUPE 1281.” According to Kim, by agreement the RSU has to provide the discounted metropass service to part-time and continuing education students.
RSU’s full-time staff, including executive directors, is unionized with CUPE1281.
“We are trying to resolve issues with RSU executives,” said Kim.
“It seems that RSU is representing CUPE1281, not the students.” CESAR executives are now considering the option of operating the discounted metropass service independent of the RSU through the CESAR office.
“The metro pass is just anoth step one lockouts has consequences for workers. Bargaining is going to happen later or sooner but it is going to happen,” said Mary-Jo Nadeau, service co-ordinator at CUPE 1281.
The lockout was triggered Sept.
30 after weeks of unsuccessful discussion between CESAR executives and their staff on the topic of wage increases to a “cost of living standard” through a new collective bargaining agreement.
A time frame regarding bargaining and negotiations has not yet been released to the public.
The lockout continues.