Holiday shutdown plan irks LU staff


Excerpt from: Chronicle Journal, Thunder Bay December 17, 2009

Full article at:

Thunder Bay union leaders are taking a wait-and-see approach to a bitter dispute between Lakehead University and its 370 full-time professors and lecturers over next week‘s four-day shutdown that will result in lost wages for most university staffers.

CAW Local 229 financial secretary Jason Cummings said Wednesday that before it locks horns with LU at Ontario‘s labour board, it will wait to see how Lakehead University Faculty Association (LUFA) makes out in an ongoing arbitration hearing over the shutdown.

However, Cummings said his 55 non-academic members – full-time custodians, maintenance workers and shippers – may choose to attend Monday‘s campus rally in support of the professors‘ position to oppose the imposed days off.

“We see what‘s happening as another example of a university that has taken an anti-worker approach,” Cummings said.

Most LU employees, including professors, support workers and senior administrators like university president Fred Gilbert, are to go without pay while the campus is shut down between Monday and Christmas Eve.

The move, unprecedented among Ontario universities, LUFA says, is supposed to save LU nearly $1 million.

Gilbert originally agreed to be interviewed this week, then cancelled, saying it would be inappropriate now that LU‘s dispute with its professors is in arbitration.

LUFA claims the shut-down measure was a clear violation of its collective agreement with LU; some of the savings are now being eaten up by the arbitration hearing, it says.

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