As major sports leagues such as the NBA and NHL suspend play due to coronavirus (COVID-19), CSEC employees are wondering if they’re going to be paid for cancelled shifts.
I am one of hundreds of people employed by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation directly affected by the suspension of play in the NHL.
The first news we received about getting paid for cancelled shifts was sent to us in an email on Friday, March 13.
We were told by management that those who were scheduled to work the Flames game against the Islanders on Thursday would be paid since it was cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice. But no one would be paid for shifts that were cancelled with more than a day’s notice, which is the remainder of March.
The letter also mentioned that employees can apply for employment insurance, but being a full-time student prevents me from going down that path. It also said that benefits for part-time employees who were eligible were going to continue. Everything else after that point in the letter did not talk about any wages.
Booked off for journalism practicum
In my case, I booked off work until May since I have to focus on the last month of my classes at SAIT and begin a four-week long journalism practicum here at LiveWire Calgary on Mar. 16.
As a result, I would not be making money from working at the Saddledome during that time.
But for many of my co-workers that were scheduled to work for the remainder of March and April, this is a major blow to them. Everyone has bills to pay and that’s going to eat up at whatever we have in our bank accounts.
As a student set to begin paying off nearly $20,000 worth of student loans, this makes it difficult to set money aside for that.
Let’s look at the financials here. In 2019, I was paid $6,272 from CSEC and made $896 in tips during the year. The numbers will differ from person to person, depending on how many hours they work. Still, losing between 16 to 20 per cent of your annual income is bad news for anyone.
It’s disappointing to hear that CSEC isn’t going to pay their part-time workers. Meanwhile, other organizations such as the Edmonton Oilers, MLSE (Maple Leafs) in Toronto are paying their part-time workers. Even players in the NBA are stepping up to help arena workers cover lost wages.
One colleague I spoke to, Mackenzie Grafton, said CSEC should pay their employees for cancelled shifts, like the previously mentioned organizations.
“I feel for my colleagues who work at the Saddledome every shift who need this income. There is still time to fix this,” Grafton said.
There’s still time to fix this
He’s right. There’s time to fix this. The Flames can resolve this issue right now and give their employees a helping hand. Especially in this time where many families need support in the community.
Many businesses are going to go through tough times, and the Calgary Flames are no different. They did, however, sign a deal for $300 million in public money. That should buy the public who work hard for them some measure of comfort and security during this coronavirus pandemic.
The current situation is a slap in the face to the many people who work hard during every event. Whether it’s a hockey game or a concert, to make ends meet year-round.
Right now, the best we can hope is for the NHL and other leagues to end their suspensions so we can head back to work.
Editor’s note: We did contact the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation Saturday afternoon to see if there was any change in their position on part-time wages. We haven’t yet received a response.
Here’s a link to a petition to lobby the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation to pay these employees.
Here’s another link to another petition.
Here’s a link to a GoFundMe for the CSEC employees pay (including players’ and their families as contributors).