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Workers call on U of C chancellor-elect Cornish: Take action on racism

Vulnerable campus caretakers targeted by University of Calgary

Apr 22, 2022

Vulnerable campus caretakers targeted by University of Calgary

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Workers at the University of Calgary are calling on chancellor-elect Jon Cornish to stand by his words and take action to make the campus a more inclusive workplace after a recent act of institutional racism.
“The university recently unilaterally changed the shifts of all caretakers, creating real financial hardship for the lowest-paid and most vulnerable members of the campus community,” says Bobby-Joe Borodey, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents support staff at the U of C.
“Most of these 200 workers are women, people of colour and newcomers to Canada, but the decision to drastically change their work failed to take in to account their status as vulnerable, marginalized people,” she says.
“The university likes to boast about its efforts and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Choosing to target these workers, who earn less than a living wage, is a shameful act of hypocrisy.”
Borodey welcomes the appointment of former Calgary Stampeder Cornish as chancellor and his pledge to “champion the values of safety, inclusivity and achievement.” She notes that he has talked publicly about the barriers his father faced as a person of colour who came to Canada. Cornish is described by the university as having a passion “for promoting inclusion.”
“Our members hope and expect that the new chancellor will be able to look at the recent changes to caretakers’ work through the lens of his family’s experiences. If he truly wants the university to be inclusive, that means removing barriers to workers seeking equity, not creating them,” says Borodey.
“AUPE is calling on Cornish to commit to reviewing the recent decision to change caretaker shifts his first act as chancellor.”
The caretakers earn only $16 to $20 per hour, but a now-cancelled overnight shift means that many lose a shift premium of $2.50 per hour, which can cost about $5,000 per year. Many caretakers don’t have full-time hours at the university, meaning they work second and third jobs to survive, but some are having to quit the university or other jobs because of the shift changes.
“These are the barriers faced by marginalized workers. It is these barriers that Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are supposed to address. The university must show that true equity and inclusivity is more than just hollow words,” says Borodey.
Bobby-Joe Borodey is available for interviews.
For information, please contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, at 403-831-4394 or


News Category

  • Media release


  • 052 - University of Calgary


  • Education

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