Student employees make second attempt to unionize

The St. Thomas Union of Student Employees failed to become a union last year, but they’re going to try again, starting this week.

The union certification application was withdrawn late last semester.

STUSE started last winter as student employees of the university called for improved working conditions.

St. Thomas University spokesman Jeffrey Carleton said STU was notified several weeks ago that the application was withdrawn without prejudice.

“Because they withdrew without prejudice they are free in the future to re-apply,” he said.

Ella Henry, who works as a research assistant on campus and is involved in organizing the union, wrote in an email that STUSE withdrew because the process was taking too long at the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board.

The university and STUSE could not come to agreement about the list of student employees at the university, one of the steps required before the labour board could certify the union.

Student employees were asked to sign a card saying they supported unionization. Not signing a card effectively was a no to unionization.

“The cards signed last year weren’t counted by the labour board because there was no clear list of who and how many students were working for the university.”

They will be trying again this year.

“We’ll be talking to other student workers in the coming months, and asking people to support forming a union. This year both the organizing team and the university have a much clearer understanding of how many students are working on campus, so I hope the process at the labour board will be faster.”

Henry expects this unionization attempt to be successful.

“Most people I talked to last year supported forming a union, and I expect that the response this year will be similar.

“Students don’t work in a central location with set hours, [so] the challenge is to get the information out to everyone so all student workers eligible to unionize are able to make an informed decision about whether or not to support forming a union.”

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