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Contract dispute will not affect student services

Contract dispute between the Langara Students’ Union and its employees still unresolved

There is an ongoing contract dispute between the Langara Students’ Union. Photo: Gabrielle Plonka
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Reported by Gabrielle Plonka

An ongoing contract dispute between the Langara Students’ Union and its employees will not affect student services, according to an LSU spokesperson.

Warren Williams, the president of CUPE 15, the union that represents LSU staff, said the goal is to have student services continue and to come to an agreement with the LSU.

“It’s not in the best interests of the student union, or the union, for there to be job action at this point in time,” Williams said of the dispute that has being going on since the end of last year. “So we would rather work this out.”

Contract continues to be unresolved

The collective agreement between the LSU and its employees was not renewed when it ended in November of last year, leading to a brief lockout of employees in mid-December.

Williams said they’ve been able to avoid job action since the lockout, but bargaining can last longer than a year in some situations.

“The [LSU]’s come in with some very stringent demands and we’re looking at them and having difficulty coming to agreement on those demands,” said Williams, who would not elaborate on those demands. “We’re willing to be at the table for as long as it takes.”

The LSU media committee, which wrote an email to The Voice, cited “on-going issues” that “have not yet been resolved” but confirmed that, “Student services will not be compromised.”

“We currently have no further comments to provide regarding the [collective bargaining agreement],” the LSU said.

Holiday demands

The five-year contract was last renegotiated in 2012, at which time, LSU staff negotiated two new “floating” paid holidays per year at the employees’ discretion, as well as the requirement that executive members of the LSU not “meddle or unnecessarily hinder staff members.”

Currently, in addition to other benefits, the agreement provides for time off of up to 23 paid holidays, in addition to the two “floating” holidays and up to seven weeks of paid vacation, depending on how many subsequent years the employee has worked as regular staff of the LSU.

According to B.C. Labour Relations, short lockouts of a small staff are uncommon. The LSU could now implement another lockout at any time in the next 90 days.

If the LSU and CUPE 15 cannot come to an agreement, next steps will likely either include job action or the hiring of a mediator to guide the two organizations to renegotiation.

As efforts towards negotiation continue, many students seem unaware of the services that the LSU is fighting to maintain.

Students unaware of dispute

“I’ve never personally benefited from the LSU before,” said Health Sciences student Kim Cabanban. “I’m not really aware what I could get from it.”

Eva Turner, a new student to Langara this semester, said she was similarly ignorant to the student union’s impact.

“I wasn’t aware of what [the LSU building] kind of did,” she said at the Langara Sushi Cafe on Friday. Turner admitted that after her fifth week of class at Langara College, she still wasn’t sure what services the union provided.

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