January 12 2020
Last year, Rugby Canada presented its sevens team with a new agreement that, essentially, reduced payment to players (bonuses like the Vancouver sevens tourney’s went from $5,000 to $500 per player) and treated the sevens team as more of a development squad for the 15s, which the organization admitted was its first priority.Full Story
So, the players decided to organize. More than half of the players on the rugby sevens roster boycotted practices in September 2018 in hopes of getting a new deal. They eventually came to an agreement with Rugby Canada, but wanted to put in some protections to make sure they weren’t taken advantage of again.
“Someone told them ‘You should go talk to a union about organizing,’ and that’s what happened—we sat down with them,” recalls Scott Lunny, assistant to the director for United Steelworkers Canada. “We explained that, in the world of labour relations, what prevents [getting taken advantage of] from happening is the labour code, which says ‘thou shalt bargain in good faith when you have a union.’”
On September 21, 2018, the United Steelworkers and Vancouver-based Victory Square Law Office filed an application on behalf of the sevens team to certify as a bargaining unit to the British Columbia Labour Relations Board.
That wasn’t met with open arms. Rugby Canada’s response to the union was filled with objections. For one, they argued that the application wasn’t within the jurisdiction of the B.C. Labour Relations Board, because it’s Rugby Canada.