STUSU finding ways to save money

STUSU at its regular meeting on Sept. 15, 2011. (Shane Magee/AQ)

The St. Thomas University students’ union is considering not filling all of its staff positions this year to save money, according to STUSU president Mark Livingstone.

The union is looking for extra pennies this year because of increases to staffing and other costs.

One of these expenses is the $5,000 Livingstone estimates a STUSU employees union is going to cost. STUSU employees voted to unionize in the spring and have a three-year collective agreement.

“We have a few options when it comes to the finances of the students’ union. We can in theory continue to run a deficit, because of the sufficient cash reserves we have,” said Livingstone. “The other option is to review services and cut expenses. The final option is to increase our fee to match expenses.”

STUSU makes almost all of its money from a $108 fee for full-time students and a $42 fee for part-time students. Livingstone said there is no plan to raise this fee.

The August budget update shows the union budgeting $119,545 for the school year to pay employees, representing 41 per cent of STUSU spending.

This includes spending $5,000 to hire a campaigns coordinator, a position created this spring.

In August, Livingstone said he wasn’t sure whether staff cuts would be allowed for various reasons and he hasn’t thought about specific positions which could be cut.

“In the coming months I want to take the opportunity to evaluate the role that each of the staff positions in the student union fill,” he said.

STUSU employees haven’t been the only group on campus pushing to unionize last year.

Some student employees of the university attempted to collect signed cards from more than 60 per cent of student employees in a bid to unionize.

Reaching 60 per cent would allow for automatic certification. It remains unclear how many signed.

An email from Michelle LeBlanc, organizer for St. Thomas Union of Student Employees, in July said the New Brunswick Labour Board is facilitating discussions between the union and the employer about the list of employees.

The Labour Board could not comment on the process other than to say a meeting has been scheduled for Sept. 20.

At an initial meeting, the university and the employees agreed the list of employees was incomplete.

“Before they can even start deciding whether the number of required cards have been signed to get certified, they have to have an accurate number of how many were employed to compare the cards to,” said Ella Henry, a student employee who is part of the organizing committee.

“We said in the past that we’re going to go through the process and we’re going to look at the names on the list to make sure that in our view they’re accurate and they’re fair. And then we’ll take the next step beyond that,” said STU’s director of communications Jeffrey Carleton.

Henry said the committee will probably start talking to new student employees who may not have been around last year.

“We want to make sure they stay informed and up-to-date about the process even if they weren’t involved last year.”

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