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Former RSU employee Michael Verticchio claims union owes him $40,000

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By Alanna Rizza

After 10 years of working for the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), Michael Verticchio said they are refusing to pay him for about $40,000 worth of overtime and a parental leave payout.

Verticchio was the interim Student Campus Centre (SCC) general manager from September 2013 to August 2015. Prior to that, he was the executive director of operations and services.

At the beginning of the 2015 school year he began his year-long paid parental leave. However, his leave was cut short when he agreed to be the permanent general manager in May 2016.

Verticchio resigned last month. He added that the money he is owed also comes from 20 outstanding vacation days.

“This is the money that I was counting on using for my older son’s autism therapy and younger son’s speech therapy,” Verticchio said in an email.

According to a separate email obtained by The Eye, Rajean Hoilett, the RSU president from 2014 to 2015, approved Verticchio’s parental leave.

The Employee Standards Act allows 35 weeks for parental leave, which is what Verticchio was approved for. Hoilett approved an additional 17 weeks (680 hours of the approved 1,000 hours) using accrued lieu time.

However, the RSU is no longer acknowledging this agreement.

In another email obtained by The Eye, RSU general manager Natasha Campagna, who was hired at the end of 2015, told him that the “RSU has no further obligations” to Verticchio, as he accepted employment as the permanent SCC general manager while he was on leave.

Campagna also wrote in the email, which was dated April 28, 2016, that Verticchio’s request for overtime compensation could not be approved due to sections of the RSU’s Collective Agreement. The Collective Agreement consists of conditions for workers that are a part of The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1281 (CUPE 1281) and work for the RSU.

Campagna cited the “bereavement leave” section of the Collective Agreement, whereby overtime hours must be “reasonable” and submitted on a monthly basis. Since Verticchio made his claim 12 months late, according to Campagna, the request was invalid.

Campagna had no further comment, but confirmed that the situation is being handled with the RSU management team and CUPE 1281.

Lai King-Hum, a Toronto-based employment lawyer, said she was unable to find any basis for Campagna stating that there is a 12-month limit to claiming overtime.

King-Hum added that the tracking of hours is “specifically for the purpose of managing flow of work between employees and has no basis on whether or not the overtime claim is paid out.”

“I easily worked 250 hours of overtime a year, if not more,” Verticchio wrote. “The Collective Agreement doesn’t state that overtime has to be approved in advance, and that the time sheets were only for information purposes and not a basis for approving overtime or payouts.”

The Collective Agreement also states that if overtime exceeds 250 hours, a labour management meeting would be held. If the employment ends permanently, according to the agreement, any accumulated overtime will be paid out by the employer.

King-Hum said overtime is paid if an employee works more than 44 hours per week. There is no requirement for prior approval to have overtime payout, she added. Verticchio did not provide monthly tracking sheets, which makes proving the extra hours more difficult, according to King-Hum.

“Under the ESA (Employment Standards Act), [Verticchio] is entitled to be paid out vacation time earned but not taken,” she said. “If he says that he has 20 outstanding vacation days that were not taken, then it should be paid out to him on termination of employment.”

Verticchio said an arbiter—a mediator to resolve the dispute—has been appointed to the case but the process hasn’t started yet.

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