Without GTAs Western's Education Stops
Who we are
We are graduate students, both Master’s and PhD, employed as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) at Western University. We are a big part of Western's research and teaching excellence. We mentor and guide students, run labs and tutorials and grade student work.
We are international and domestic students, spouses, mothers and fathers. We come to Western to focus on academics. Increasingly, we spend our time searching for affordable housing and discounts on groceries. Many of us need student loans to cover the increasing gap between GTA income and basic expenses, although many of us do not have access to a student loan. We rely on limited food support and financial aid provided through our union, PSAC Local 610. Our GTA employment is our income, yet PhD candidates lose the option to be a GTA after year four and Masters students have no guarantee.
What we are bargaining for
Real wage increase
That means: to compensate for the increased cost of living, and with a guarantee that Western will not simply claw-back our gains from another funding source.
Better appointment criteria
We are asking for the opportunity to be a GTA throughout our program. We have courses we love to teach, and that match our skills. We are asking to have our input considered when positions are assigned.
For some of us, tuition is part of our offer letter. The rest of us are vulnerable to increases in tuition. We are asking for protection from tuition increases in the form of a tuition rebate.
Our Collective Agreement includes a Financial Assistance program which helps GTAs facing medical and personal emergencies, and offsets the cost of UHIP and childcare. We also have access to a Food Support program, for those of us struggling to pay for groceries. We are asking for increases to our benefits.
An overtime process that works
Many of us work above our hours, and our Collective Agreement has a provision for overtime. Unfortunately, it is not working and many of us are not able to get pay for the extra hours we work. We are asking for an improved overtime process.
Our demands are not just better pay and better work conditions. Today we demand basic respect and recognition of our value to Western.