Pay hike comes after debate with student federation workers’ union

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)’s most recent Board of Administration (BOA) meeting, which took place on April 26, saw several important developments, one of which was executive pay. This was the last meeting of the 2016-17 BOA.

An emergency motion was brought by Rizki Rachiq, the returning vice-president finance, to raise each executive’s salary by $2,000, from $33,550 to $35,550.

According to the motion, executive pay could increase more in the future, but only by the same rate as SFUO staff pay increases. The motion also granted executives a transit or parking pass.

The motion passed.

Rachiq had previously presented a motion to the board on March 12 to raise each executive’s salary by $6,200, bringing it to $39,750. While the motion initially passed, it was later struck down by the vote of the student population at the March 14 General Assembly before it could take effect.

Rachiq then brought forward a motion at the April 2 BOA meeting stipulating that executives could be eligible for overtime pay in addition to their current salaries. That motion was on the agenda for the April 26 meeting, but it died when no one brought it forward. Instead, the board pursued Rachiq’s new motion to increase executive salaries by $2,000.

 The latest motion resulted from a conversation between the SFUO executive and CUPE4943, the union which represents the federation’s employees.

In a letter sent from CUPE4943 to the SFUO executive, provided to the Fulcrum by the SFUO’s current vice-president of services and communications Kathryn Leblanc, the union noted that they were unhappy with the executive’s original $6,200 raise, which represented an 18% salary increase.

The union wrote that “it is troubling that the Union was told during collective bargaining that the maximum wage increase Management could give to its part-time employees was $0.23 per hour (which represents a 1.7% increase), when the SFUO clearly had $37,200 (the total cost of the proposed Executive members’ raise) available for additional wage increases.”

The letter went on to say that the union opposed the executives’ subsequent plan to grant themselves overtime pay. The union said that it would be “extremely difficult to verify that overtime hours have been duly completed,” and that “the sporadic increases to payroll from one pay period to another could contribute to another precarious financial situation at the Student Federation.”

However, the union was not completely against raises for executives. The union wrote, “we recognize that Executive members are underpaid,” and “the Union would generally support wage increases for the executives,” but “an 18% increase in the current financial climate is inappropriate…”

The union said an immediate $2,000 increase in pay for each executive member would receive its “full support.” However, it made no mention of a transit or parking pass, or any non-monetary benefits for executives.

A statement by the current SFUO executive over email after the meeting, delivered by Leblanc, read: “The VP Finance is running the numbers to analyze the feasibility of increasing the wages of part-time employees for the summer 2017 period.”

As no media were present at the April 26 meeting, the Fulcrum has reconstructed the events that transpired based on testimonies by members of the SFUO executive, outgoing Faculty of Engineering representative Jeffry Colin, and confirmed with sources that have chosen to remain anonymous.

The Fulcrum also requested the minutes of the meeting from the SFUO, but was told they were not yet available. The minutes of the April 26 meeting have not yet been made public as of the date of this publication.