Rally calls for equity for vulnerable workers
CALGARY – Low-wage workers at the University of Calgary have called on their employer to back away from an act of institutional racism that is creating financial hardships.
A letter has been sent to the vice-provost of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Dr. Malinda Smith, calling on her to tell the university that a unilateral decision to change their working conditions “is incompatible with the university EDI goals.”
“The university had chosen to attack about 200 low-income caretakers, who are mostly women, people of colour and newcomers to Canada,” says Justin Huseby, chair of Local 052 of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents the caretakers and other support workers at the U of C.
On its website, the university claims: “We are committed to achieving equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible employment practices and workplaces.” It says its missions is to “strive to remove barriers” encountered by equity-seeking groups.
Huseby says: “Instead of removing barriers, the university has created new ones by choosing to target these vulnerable workers. It has unilaterally introduced shift changes that cuts their wages significantly.”
He adds: “Because their pay is low, less than a living wage, and many don’t have full-time hours at the university, a lot of these workers have to have second and third jobs to survive. The shift changes mean many are forced to give up jobs, either at the university or elsewhere. The shift changes also make it increasingly difficult for people who rely on public transit to get to and from work.”
The chair of Local 052 says: “It’s hypocritical and shameful of the university leaders to boast about equity, diversity and inclusion while targeting women, people of colour and newcomers to Canada.
“There’s no reason for an organization with a $1.4 billion budget to go after the lowest paid most vulnerable workers on campus. They are demanding respect and equity.
A copy of the letter to Dr. Malinda Smith is attached.
AUPE Local 05 chair Justine Huseby is available for comment. For information, please contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, at 403-831-4394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.