CSU Executives Looking Into Salary Increase

Team Claims They Are Not Paid a Living Wage

When their salary is broken down to the hour, it doesn’t amount to $15 an hour, which is the standard living wage, said CSU Student Life Coordinator Leyla Sutherland. Archive Nikolas Litzenberger

The Concordia Student Union executive team is looking at increasing the salaries of future executive.

When their salary is broken down to the hour, it doesn’t amount to $15 an hour, which is the standard living wage, said CSU Student Life Coordinator Leyla Sutherland.

“It makes me uncomfortable to advocate for my own pay raise, but the problem is there’s no one else who would advocate for an executive pay raise,” Sutherland said. “That’s also why I want to have it be more of a discussion with [student] councillors so it can be hopefully something that everyone feels like it’s done in a more ethical way.”

Sutherland said that their hourly wage can vary depending on the weeks and hours they put in. Some weeks, executive make less than minimum wage, while other weeks, they make about $12 an hour. The executive team makes a salary regardless of the amount of hours they actually work. Executives who fulfilled their year-long mandate last year each received about $27,000.

The CSU had already began looking at salary increases last year, said former CSU Finance Coordinator Thomas David-Bashore, in order to fall in line with their position on paying employees living wages of $15 per hour.

“It is kind of, incongruous to have a position on a living wage and not pay executives living wage,” David-Bashore said.

According to Sutherland and CSU councillor Rowan Gaudet, it’s common for CSU executives to work more than “full time” hours, and sometimes they work 50-60 hours a week.

“This work is demanding and the people completing it, not just me, not just this year’s team, should be paid to reflect these realities,” Sutherland said.

In October 2016, The Ubyssey from the University of British Columbia, Western University’s The Gazette, and the University of Toronto’s The Varsity, collaborated on an article detailing the salary of university student unions at 16 major Canadian universities.

The executives in the University of Waterloo Federation of Students each make $46,532, making them the highest paid executives in english universities across Canada. Without bonuses, the CSU executives are the lowest paid at almost $27,000.

In addition to the pay raises, Sutherland wants to advocate for better mental health services for the executives.

“I’ve seen first how much this job really takes a toll on people’s mental health,” she said. “I think that there could be better support for a lot of student leaders.”

Every year, the CSU budgets a certain amount to pay their executives. For the 2016-2017 academic year, $255,190 was budgeted for executive salaries. This year $259,718—an increase of about 1.77 per cent over last year—was budgeted.

According to David-Bashore, it is easier to give the CSU executive a blanket increase in salary rather than actually paying them $15 an hour because of the varying hours. Paying executives who work overtime would become costly.

“I think salaried is the best system and within a salary job you can find ways of paying a living wage that don’t necessarily equate to how many dollars someone is being paid for hour,” said Gaudet.

He explained that there are indexes which show what a living wage is for salaried positions.

CSU executives also regularly receive bonuses at the end of their mandate. David-Bashore said that there aren’t many rules written about bonuses aside from the fact that they must be given. He added that any conversation about a salary increase would have to discuss whether or not bonuses should continue to exist as a work incentive.

Sutherland said that any motion regarding an increase in salary would have to be passed at CSU council, or go through referendum, and that the amount would be based off of the living wage index to reflect what the rest of the CSU staff is paid, and the CSU’s position on the living wage.

“Ideally it would also include provisions for revisiting regularly by council to avoid it relying on executives being placed in a position where they need to advocate for their own raises,” she added.