Some Windsor Circus School workers unionize

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CTV Windsor


Published Sunday, May 12, 2019 4:38PM EDT


Last Updated Sunday, May 12, 2019 5:28PM EDT

A pair of aerialists and circus performers organized an information picket in front of Windsor Circus School at 511 Pelissier St. with the help of a local union Sunday.

So far only two staff members have signed on with the Windsor Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World. Wages have always been an issue according to Kaitlyn Schram, but she says things got odd when the owners of Windsor Circus School and its sister company Height Entertainment presented them with a contract.

The fulltime artist tells AM800 News the contract literally drew a line in the sand and she was asked not to return after refusing to sign it.

“How unfair it was. It was kind of restricting the things that we were doing outside of Windsor Circus School. Many of us do outside performing and different events like that and this was kind of an attack on that part of livelihood,” says Schram who goes on to say money many not matter to those who perform as a hobby and signed without hesitation.

“I need to work outside of the school doing what I do best, performing, to make ends meet. If they’re not going to pay a living wage, they can’t tell me where and when I can perform,” she added.

Travis Rietsma is the Media Liaison for the Industrial Workers of the World her in Windsor.

After hearing out Schram and her colleague Conrad Mueller, he got advice from a paralegal on their behalf and helped organize the information picket Sunday.

“It’s pretty obvious that they’re being exploited, especially when it comes to an employer trying to instate a contract on people who’ve worked at a place for several year — very high skilled worker, very high risk as well — so being paid $15 per hour and in some cases less than that, that’s not fair and it needs to be remedied,” he says.

Despite Schram’s assurance issues have been raised over wage fairness in the past.

Owner Joe Jelasic tells AM800 News it’s the first he’d hear of an issues with wage or the contract as most of the existing staff had already signed it.

He says the contract is designed to protect his product.

“We’re not unwilling to meet these demands to work with them in finding a more amicable way to do things in terms of wage and in terms of hours or whatever they’re looking for,” he says. “We were simply uninformed of this beforehand, so I don’t know exactly why this approach was chosen but it’s there legal right to do so.”

Schram says the information picket was designed to make sure customers and students knew what was going on behind closed doors.

In the end, Schram says ownership has agreed to sit down with everybody with a third party present for transparency to discuss the contract, conditions and wages moving forward.

She says any concerns that were brought forward by individuals would result in the owners asking for a private discussion.wINDSOR



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