Capilano Students’ Union locks out employees
A lockout is hitting Capilano University’s students’ union. After a process of negotiation that has left the employees of the students’ union without a contract, the Capilano Students’ Union issued lockout notice on August 20.
What is a lockout?
The Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) is an independently incorporated entity from Capilano University. The CSU has unionized employees, meaning those workers have a collective agreement with the students’ union for wages and working conditions. This agreement is renegotiated every few years between the workers and the students’ union.
A lockout occurs when, instead of continuing to negotiate, the employer tries to coerce the workers into accepting a deal by preventing them from going to work. The CSU has issued lockout notice and will soon be keeping its employees out of their offices.
Usually when a lockout occurs the work site is closed down. However, if the employer uses other workers to replace the locked out workers, that is called scab labor. Scab laborers are anyone who replaced locked out or striking workers.
The lockout is going to impact the reputation of students at Capilano University. Students at the University rely on the CSU to represent the campus to government and other community groups. By giving up on negotiations and locking out employees, the CSU is painting students in North Vancouver with an anti-union brush that is going to impact everyone.
Services of the Capilano Students’ Union won’t continue for students at the University that refuse to cross the picket line. This means that any student who respects workers’ right to negotiate fairly for a collective agreement is going to have to wait for the dispute to resolve before getting students’ union services. For all students, it is likely that the unskilled and part-time elected students will be unable to deliver services in the same way they were delivered before the lockout.
The lockout notice is already impacting the reputation of Capilano University and its students:
For its part, the union representing CSU employees, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), is saying that the workers are receiving widespread support.
In a statement, CUPE representative and CSU employee Sarah Silvester said, “CUPE members were ready to welcome students back to campus and instead we are locked out of our jobs. We should be running our annual book sale, responding to student needs and preparing for the busy year ahead for the Student Union.”
CUPE says it represents 13 CSU employees who provide student union services to Capilano University students. Almost two-thirds of these members are students themselves. Services they provide include locker rentals and support for back to school events, helping with the CSU Health and Dental plan, and U-Pass BC questions, as well as responding to students’ needs.
CSU management inexperience impacts negotiations
The CSU is run by a board of directors of elected students and one employee who is exempt from the union, General Manager Chris Girodat. At any other not-for-profit group in this situation, the general manager and board of directors might have some serious experience dealing with these issues. The CSU management has no such experience.
The elected students are just that, elected students. As for the General Manager, Chris Girodat has little by way of experience handling labor disputes. Prior to being hired at the CSU, Girodat was a member of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University senate and a student himself at that school. side note: Girodat also said of an anti-choice campaigner on campus, “he was more than welcome to express his views on campus.”
In a statement released by the Capilano Students’ Union, president Zach Renwick assured students that their students’ union would engage in scab labour, saying, “The student executive will be working hard to help minimize the disruption to our services, events, and campaigns.”
Instead of engaging in a fulsome and meaningful dialogue with the staff of the students’ union, the CSU students and general manager have given up. Rather than talking it out, they’ve forced out the staff and announced that they’re going to engage in scab labor to ensure that the students’ union’s services get implemented:
In the event that a lockout occurs and picket lines are established, the CSU student executive and exempt staff are going to be working hard to continue to deliver services, campaigns, and events with as little interruption as possible. We will make sure to communicate any service changes as soon as we can. Keep checking the CSU website for more details.
Rather than hash out issues with the employees, the Capilano Students’ Union is:
- locking out its employees
- engaging in scab labor
- interrupting services that students count on
- forcing students into the middle of a fight they don’t want to be in
For example, the CSU is telling students this about the picket line:
In the event that picket lines are established at or around CSU spaces or offices, every person has the right to decide, for themselves, whether to cross a picket line. Picketers are not allowed to physically prevent you from accessing CSU spaces or offices.
However, what they’re not telling you is that by crossing a picket line you’re telling the workers that you don’t care about them. The CSU isn’t telling students just hope socially unacceptable it is to cross a picket line.
Negotiations can start at any time
At this point it is up to the Capilano Students’ Union to indicate that it is willing to go back to bargaining. Until the CSU makes that decision, their employees will be forced to put up a picket line on campus. In the mean time, students are stuck in the middle of an issue that they elected the CSU directors avoid, not to make worse.
Are you a Capilano University student? Tell the CSU what you think about them locking out employees and performing scab labor:
- Taylor Wilson, vice-president of external relations
- Kate Phifer, vice-president of student life
- Zach Renwick, vice-president of internal development
- Sacha Fabry, vice-president of university relations and services
- Jullian Kolstee, accessibility justice coordinator
- Catrina McCrae, women students liaison
- Jonald Chan, arts and sciences representative
- Emily Soloman, business and professional studies representative
- Kyle Legrow, global community studies representative
- Sabina Ouellette, global and community studies representative
- Ben Glassen, Capilano University senate representative
- Rhita Hassar, Capilano University senate and board of governors representative
- Natasha Prakash, Capilano University senate and board of governors representative
Their email contract information can be found here.