Employees of the St. Thomas University students’ union are now members of a union. Employees include the chief returning officer, communications coordinator and welcome week chair.
A tentative agreement between the union and the STUSU was the subject of a last minute meeting of the STUSU executive on Saturday, April 30 – the day before the newly elected members took office.
Few details are available because both the employees and the employers have signed a confidentiality agreement.
“I can’t talk to you about anything within the proposed agreement. We reached a draft agreement and as is standard in collective bargaining, both sides signed a confidentiality agreement.
“Anything within the agreement remains confidential until both sides have ratified an agreement,” former students’ union president Ella Henry said after the meeting.
“If I speak to the contents of that meeting I put the students’ union at a risk of action from our employees union and the labour board.”
Lydia MacDonell, former vice-president student life, said the meeting was “to approve a tentative agreement between the new union of [students’ union] employees.”
It is unclear which employees started the unionization effort and what their reasons were.
The new union is not directly related to the effort to create a union of STU student employees.
These employees work for the STUSU, not the university.
Next year there will be 12 employee positions including the new campaigns coordinator position.
Student fees fund STUSU. STUSU is budgeted to spend $114,487 on employee pay for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
The STUSU general manager, Tina Reissner, is not included in the new union. Reissner is a full-time employee of the STUSU who mainly manages finances and record-keeping.
The process to start the union began in late March and early April.
When enough employees signed cards that said they wanted to unionize, the provincial labour board certified them and the negotiation process began.
The meeting on Saturday was called so the STUSU executives could go over the draft agreement from that process.
But MacDonell was not happy with the timing of the meeting.
“I opposed the ratification because of the manner it was brought up (hours away [from] the term ending and late on a Saturday which seems like an avoidance tactic) and how I had been left basically completely oblivious to the entire process as had Tina [Reissner] who would be the best one to understand the implications of what is involved,” MacDonell said in a Facebook message after the meeting.
STUSU bylaws require the general manager to attend SEC meetings and record minutes. However, MacDonell said Reissner was unable to attend because she couldn’t leave her children.
The SEC meeting on Saturday afternoon included then STUSU president Ella Henry, vice-president education Craig Mazerolle, vice-president administration Mary-Dan Johnston and then vice-president student life Lydia MacDonell.
Mark Livingstone, STUSU president for 2011-12, said he was not aware of the meeting until he heard rumours of it and was unable to contact Henry to discuss it.
Livingstone was attending a New Brunswick Student Alliance meeting in Red Bank, New Brunswick.
Both Mazerolle and Henry attended some of the meeting before returning to Fredericton on Saturday.
Henry said Livingstone was not told because he was not yet in office and so not legally part of the STUSU.
“Legally, because we’ve signed a confidentiality agreement we can’t involve people who are not the legal representatives in those discussions. That would be a breach of the agreement.”