Members from the Operations and Ushers/Box Office groups working at the National Arts Centre (NAC) are holding a strike vote this week. Without a contract respectively since 2018 and 2019, the bargaining teams used all available means to get a fair deal, including declaring impasse and going through a conciliation period.
“PSAC members at the NAC deserve a fair deal, they have been waiting long enough,” said Alex Silas, PSAC’s Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region. “This is about fairness and respect.”
Many important issues like fair wage increases for both groups remain unresolved. For the Operations group, the employer is refusing to address outstanding issues that include seniority, leave, benefits for part-time employees, and market adjustments for positions that are paid less than comparable positions in the region.
The Ushers/Box Office group are seeking to address issues related to job security and contracting out work, bilingual bonus and, most importantly, the rehiring of part-time Box Office workers fired in the middle of the pandemic.
“The employer let go of Box Office workers during the pandemic but now, as the NAC is reopening, they are refusing to rehire them,” explained Richard Ransom, local union president for both groups. “Instead, they are hiring new people without even considering those who have decades of experience. This is completely unacceptable.”
The federal government provided $35.4 million to the National Arts Centre to address pandemic costs and help the NAC reopen. Paying workers fairly and rehiring staff in their previous positions should be part of that plan.
As Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts, the NAC should help set the standard for what a fair and just recovery in the cultural sector looks like.
The outcome of the strike vote will be announced once the voting period ends at the end of the week.