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Yacyshen (from left) and colleagues Lily Richardsen, Barb Lunn and Teresa Vaccaro were each awarded long-time service awards, but had their positions abolished.
Ryan May/the Gauntlet

An award with your pink slip

Union pursues arbitration in face of Food Services privatization

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Ollie Yacyshen was recently honoured at a University of Calgary long-time service dinner for her 25 years of service as an events planner in the Food Services Catering Department. As of May 1, Ollie Yacyshen's position with the university was terminated, leaving her with a long-time service award but no job, and no pension.

University administration terminated her position, as well as the positions of approximately 400 other Food Services employees when Chartwells assumed control of U of C Food Services on Apr. 29. On Apr. 25, a Calgary Court of Queen's Bench judge refused to grant the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees an injunction to halt the contracting-out process, leaving Yacyshen and many of her former colleagues with few options left.

"I was given the opportunity to apply for a new position but, I was unsuccessful," said Yacyshen. "[Chartwells] didn't even contact me after the interview."

The failed injunction has AUPE planning its next actions on behalf of employees like Yacyshen, which include an arbitration hearing on June 20, and a boycott of all campus food vendors operated by Chartwells.

"I was quite shocked and surprised--I felt that there was grievous harm," said Shirley Maki, AUPE Local 52 Chair, about the failed injunction. "[Food Services employees] have lost jobs and benefits and the opportunity to finish out pension years."

Maki is spearheading an effort to have staff and students show their support for the union by boycotting all Chartwells operated food establishments including Baron's Court, Beny's, Club Medibles, First Cup, Love Me Tenders, Primo Italian Bistro, Scurfield Hall Cafeteria, Smash Hit Subs/Hot Stuff Pizza, Taco Time, The Soup Link and the Dining Centre.

Ray Domeij, AUPE Union Representative for the Calgary Regional Office, is leading an arbitration hearing to seek damages for those affected by the Chartwells privatization. In addition to damages, Domeij hopes for a declaration that the university violated U of C support staff's collective-bargaining agreement.

"We're seeking significant monetary retribution," said Domeij. "Some of these people had 25 to 30 years at the university. When you have half a century of service, you owe them something."

Domeij says the arbitration hearing will prove the university violated its collective agreement, as it did not examine ways to maximize the use of Food Services employees upon privatization, and it deliberately mislead the union during the initial bargaining process.

Mike Kozielec, Human Resources Specialist for the U of C, has worked as chief negotiator throughout the bargaining process. He says he is not surprised by the failed Apr. 25 injunction, as most judges prefer to handle labour disputes by the arbitration process.

"I don't think they have a valid case," explained Kozielec. "The employer--in this case the university--did all they could to include the union in the collective bargaining process."

Kozielec noted the union was included in more than 15 bargaining processes, and there was due consideration given to keep university Food Services employees employed by Chartwells.

The arbitration hearing takes place Mon., June 20.

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