AMS Security Workers Fighting for Equality

March 21, 2012

This story originally appeared in the BC Federationist.

If you ask Canadians whether they think equally qualified people should receive equal pay for performing the same work, the vast majority will say yes. But Alma Mater Society security workers at the University of British Columbia’s Student Union Building are finding that some employers will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying equal wages.

AMS Security workers, who are represented by the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Local 378, have been in mediation with UBC’s Alma Mater Society (the student union for undergraduates) since February.

The main issue is wage inequality. Despite the fact that many of the AMS security workers are students trying to pay their way through school doing important work, they currently earn significantly less than all other security workers on campus and less than the AMS’ administrative staff.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that our big issues are wages and contracting out,” said MoveUP Communications Representative Jarrah Hodge, “The AMS takes advantage of the fact that many of their security staff are foreign students and seems to think that means they don’t have to pay them a comparable wage to the AMS admin staff or any other campus security workforce.”

In 2008, all AMS security staff made $16/hour but the AMS has driven that rate lower and lower through bringing in new hires at lower rates. Most employees now make only $11.50/hour. And in mediation last week the AMS brought in a two-tier wage proposal that would see any new staff making only $10.50/hour for the first 2000 hours of work. That would mean new AMS security workers would be earning 35% less than what they would’ve made for the same work in 2008, despite rising cost of living and inflation.

The other issue MoveUP is concerned about is contracting out. “They [the AMS] have already contracted a bunch of these jobs out to private companies. Our members used to cover the Pit Pub and some of the AMS events but now they’re ending up having to go through these contractors to get this extra work. It makes everything very stressful and uncertain,” said Hodge.

“The AMS needs to recognize that their security employees are hard-working members of the campus community. They do important work keeping the SUB safe for students and faculty,” Hodge added.

Please take a moment to visit and sign the petition in support of AMS security workers.