In April 2022, CUPE Local 3906 released a bargaining survey to the members of Unit 1 to seek
input for determining our priorities in bargaining. Your bargaining team has reviewed the surveys, considered all issues arising over the term of the current agreement (expiring August 31, 2022), and has compiled the major priorities listed below for consideration and ratification of the Unit 1 membership.
On May 5th, 2022, Unit 1 members overwhelming voted in favour of the following priorities:
1) Financial Security and Compensation
● The top priority was your bottom line. 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 this category are also of considerable importance.
● Other considerations include: expanded guaranteed funding (5 th year PhD and additional time for Masters), collapsing the gap between undergraduate and graduate TA wages, 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.
● Equity with other Employees on campus. Unit 1 members should have access to services (such as parking) on par with other employees on campus.
● Protecting and expanding upon existing access to paid training. This guaranteed access expires as of August 31, 2022. We need to secure continued access to these funds and expand access to facilitate additional paid training opportunities.
2) Mental/Physical Health and Wellness (including benefits)
● Your union has secured a variety of benefits funds from the Employer to address both mental and physical health and wellbeing; strengthening and expanding these existing and well-utilized funds is a key priority. This includes expanding our Health Care Spending Account (currently our benefits fund is at $237 000/yr for approximately 3000 members- and keep in mind we have sectioned off the UHIP and childcare rebates as part of this account). The amount that members receive in Health Care Spending reimbursements has stagnated since 2012–$250 once every
two years. We need to secure funds to make this account sustainable, and to reflect the increasing costs of medical expenses that are not covered (or are inadequately covered) by other extended health care plans (such as prescription eyewear, prescription medication, physiotherapy, etc.)
● For international students, this also includes additional funding for UHIP coverage.
● More affordable dental coverage – especially for family coverage – also falls into this category.
● We are also looking to expand our Gender Affirmation Fund, won in 2019, to provide further assistance to members with the costs associated with a wide variety of gender affirming procedures and expenses.
● Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the mental and physical well-being of members. We will table language to protect the health and safety of members and members’ ability to work (e.g., remotely) during such emergencies to limit negative impacts on members’ lives.
3) Improved 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. This was exacerbated for some members by the changes to hybrid and online work models, where the limitations on numbers of students based on a classroom’s physical capacity was not applicable. A manageable workload is key.
● We also need increased clarity on the hours of work forms to provide better insight into how many assignments are to be graded, which ones, and for how long.
● We also need to ensure academic freedom, increased choice and transparency on posting processes, course selection, and hiring deadlines, protect members who wish not to work as TA for their academic supervisor, and meaningfully address frequent issues of Harassment and Discrimination that members face.
● In the past round of Collective Agreement negotiations, we secured 5 extra hours of paid TA training in a now-expired Letter of Understanding, which was a priority for members in 2019. We want members to continue to be paid for training by enshrining the right to be paid for training in the Collective Agreement