CESAR wants union employees to revise pay expectations

The Continuing Education Student Association at Ryerson locked out its two full-time unionized employees last Monday–and they are not willing to negotiate with the union until they revise their pay expectations.

One unionized employee says her wages have been frozen since the collective agreement between CESAR and her union (CUPE 1281) expired in 2011.

But CESAR says the union is demanding that the association not have student staff in the summer, along with unfair wage increases. The student association also says that the employees were in the habit of neglecting small but necessary tasks simply because they were not clearly specified in their job description.

CESAR will not resume negotiations for a new collective agreement unless CUPE 1281 agrees to a lower pay increase, said CESAR president Shinae Kim.

“This is an organization that is mandated for students, and for us not to have any student staff for one third of our operation (summer) is, that’s just an absolute no, that cannot be bargained for,” Kim said.

CESAR also wants the union to consider their business needs.

“The refusal of employees to answer telephones on the basis that there is nothing explicit in their job description is but an example of one of the barriers that we have faced and it’s not in the best interest of the students,” Kim said.

CESAR represents 16,000 students and have 20 part-time student staff.

According to CESAR, the union is insisting on wage increases that are beyond what is normal.

“The wages of staff have increased over 30% from the 2007 level and with that there is no performance evaluation,” says Kim. “Wage increases have been in negotiation since 2011 when the collective agreement expired.”

The student association’s website reports staff benefits and wages for one employee until 2010. Information about the other employee’s salary is only available for the year 2012.

CESAR services such as health and dental, bursary, legal and career counselling continue throughout the lockout.

CUPE 1281 could not be reached for comment.

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