The key priorities approved by members are:
- Increasing funding
- In the university, where academic status and employment status is blurred, funding can take a variety of forms. This primarily consists of an increased hourly wage, however other items that fall into the category of funding are also of considerable importance.
- Other considerations include: expanded guaranteed funding (5th year PhD and additional time for Masters), collapsing the gap between undergraduate and gradate TA wages, increased UHIP offset for international TAs, and a tuition freeze, rebate, or indexation.
- Minimum of 65-hour contracts. This point is especially important for our undergraduate members, many of whom work fewer than 65 hours. We currently have language that guarantees a minimum of 32 hours, but undergraduate members are looking for additional guaranteed work.
- Expanding mental and physical health and wellness supports
- Your union has secured a variety of benefits funds from the Employer to address both mental and physical health and wellbeing, and strengthening these existing and well-utilized funds is a key priority. This includes expanding our Health Care Spending Account (currently our benefits fund is at $232,700/yr for approximately 3000 members- and keep in mind we have sectioned off the UHIP rebate as part of this account).
- For international students, this also includes reimbursement for UHIP coverage.
- More affordable dental coverage – especially for family coverage – also falls into this category.
- We are also proposing a Trans Fund to assist members with the costs associated with transitioning (everyday life necessities and surgery/ies).
- Increasing paid training
- TAs/RAs in lieu are the least trained employees on campus – and in many instances are not provided with any training. While possessing excellent academic skills, practical job-specific training is rarely provided. We are proposing 3-5 hours of paid TA training for anti-oppression, mental health, professional development, and quality of teaching practices.
- Better representation for Indigenous members
- In consultation with Indigenous stakeholder groups on campus, as well as individual members who identify as Indigenous, the local will be cognizant of its responsibility to support the long-standing, Indigenous-led efforts to eliminate existing inequities between Indigenous and settler people on university campuses. We hope to do this by having the Employer give our Indigenous members the chance to self-identify as Indigenous on applications for employment as TAs and RAs in lieu and from there, provide these Indigenous applicants with increased preference in hiring decisions.
- Improving working conditions
- The collective agreement currently lacks any regulation or guidelines for the number of students per seminar/lab/tutorial. This means that additional students can be added – driving up workload without increasing compensation. A manageable workload is key.
- We also need greater clarity on the hours of work forms (e.g. how many assignments are to be graded, which ones, and for how long).
- Also falling under this priority: ensuring academic freedom and increased choice and transparency on posting processes, course selection, and hiring deadlines; protecting members who wish not to work as TA for their academic supervisor; and meaningfully addressing issues of Harassment and Discrimination frequently faced by our members.
Unit 1 Bargaining Team
Chair: Nathan Todd (Philosophy)
Chris Fairweather (Labour Studies)
Mehrshad Kafi (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
Avijit Mallick (Biology)
Leah McGrath-Reynolds (Labour Studies)
Mollie McGuire (Sociology)
James Watson (Sociology)