At a public Operations Council meeting on April 14, 2015 VCC Administration announced that they would be closing the Broadway bookstore and renovating the Downtown bookstore. This announcement was made without consultation with the Union or consideration for the people involved: students, faculty and support staff.
Today, a little over a year later, the Union was there as the Employer issued layoff notice to employees in the bookstore despite the fact that since the April 2015 announcement, the Employer has not moved beyond anything except closure and layoffs. We did learn today that they did decide to hire an Associate Director of Commercial Services, another excluded position, to be responsible for the bookstore. 5 people in the bookstore have lost their jobs but there’s another management position available!
To the best of our knowledge there is no plan for the soon to be vacated bookstore space nor has there been any consultation with faculty, students or departments as to the impact of this closure. VP of Finance, Marlene Kowalski assured employees, “we have a plan, but not a final plan.”
The word from VCC Administration is they don’t know what they’re going to do with the bookstore except offering e-texts. That seems to be the total result of over a year of planning (or no planning) regarding the bookstore and we are, therefore, having another déjà vu moment. VCC Administration has a history of closing things without appropriate and thorough consideration regarding the impact while declaring that they’ll be building something bigger and better only to actually deliver very little or nothing. For example: “suspended” the Aboriginal Culinary Arts program and then 3 years later finally cancelled it; promised a balanced budget for fiscal year 2014/15, delivered an $5.4 million dollar deficit; promised a balanced budget for fiscal year 2015/16, delivered a $5.5 million dollar deficit.
Although staff in the area are unhappy with losing their jobs, they are somewhat relieved to finally have this open secret out there. Having the Brinks Security guard advise you that your bookstore is closing and that you are losing your job is not a humane work environment.
The Broadway bookstore is expected to be open until at least September of 2016. That’s the plan, but maybe not the final plan.