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PSAC Ontario and your Local issued joint FAQ.
The tentative agreement has been ratified - April 27
Thank you for all of your support and trust.
We fought together against many obstacles: against the Employer, against doubts and mistrust, and misunderstanding by the parent union. We have demonstrated to the University and most importantly to ourselves our power, solidarity and determination. We have pushed hard not only for our own interests, but interests of those to come. We have aimed to repair a broken academe, and we will continue our fight.
The gains we all made this year are beyond the new Collective Agreement. For the first time in the history of our Local, we had a strike vote and members overwhelmingly voted in favour of a strike. For the first time, members rejected a final offer. There has never been so many members participating; the level of mobilization and engagement is incredible. This sets the precedent not only for our Local, but for the entire campus and PSAC.
There are three PSAC locals in Ontario that have a TA bargaining unit. None have ever gone on strike. You pushed PSAC to seriously re-assess what a strike for TAs would look like. Other Locals will follow our steps. This will change the labour landscape at Western.
By no means the ratification should stop us. Please use gains in your new Collective Agreement: take paid leaves, use overtime form, know your rights, stand for them and grieve. Help to carry over the momentum, join your Local - participate in the upcoming elections, various committees and events. The Union is its members, and we need you to bring your experience, your passion and devotion to your Local. What we have started does not end with us. It continues through however long it takes, however many actions we launch, however hard we fight.
The future lies with you. Thank you for your immense faith in us. Leave our errors behind, and carry our successes with you. The fight for the academe continues.
Your Bargaining Team,
Nadia Ivanova, Dmitrii Marin, Shannon Potter, MaryAnne Laurico
Ratification Votes Scheduled
You need to vote for the tentative agreement. All sessions will be held in Arts and Humanities Building (AHB), room #1R40:
Thursday, April 26
Friday, April 27
Tentative agreement is reached - April 20
For the past two days our bargaining team have been trying to achieve a fair agreement with the Employer with the assistance of a mediator. The Employer has moved beyond their mandate (which represents the best they can offer us). While the Employer has improved their offer, we were not able to meet many of your demands. The deal that will be in front of you is the best we can secure at this time. We have considered many factors and feel it is in the best interest of members to recommend that you accept this offer. Both Negotiating Teams have agreed to recommend the tentative agreement to their respective parties.
Please note, a full ratification kit outlining all of the details of the tentative agreement will follow shortly. Ratification votes will take place on April 26 and 27, 2018. Times and location will be announced as soon as they are available.
For highlights of the agreement please see the last email from the bargaining team.
Because of the “no board” report, if an agreement is not ratified by members then Western is able to change terms and conditions of employment from what is in the expired collective agreement. Prior to April 13, this was not possible. After careful consideration of the uncertain implications of continuing in the summer without a Collective Agreement in place, and possible changes in economic and political climate that could in principle worsen the Employer’s offer, and the fact that the members on the bargaining team cannot continue on the team into future semesters, we concluded it is not responsible of us to recommend rejection to members. As such, our recommendation is to accept the tentative agreement.
While there is no lasting real wage increase, extended employment period or tuition rebate in the tentative agreement, we have secured other tremendous gains. We are confident that this is the best that we can secure through mediation. Your union can continue trying to address these issues in future rounds of negotiations.
There are systemic issues within the academe that we cannot address at the bargaining table while maintaining labour peace. What has become clear is that not only would a labour disruption be necessary to make significant gains, we would have to win that strike.
We have always been directed by our membership and no matter the outcome of the vote, will continue to follow your direction. We remain committed to continuing to always act in your best interest.
We would like to thank Matt Coady for his valuable contributions to the gains we have secured, and we wish him all the best in his research endeavors.
A special thank you, as well, to our Strike Committee and Mobilization Committee. Without your dedication and tireless hours of work toward our common cause we would not have been able to secure any of the gains we have.
We would also like to thank all of the members who constantly demonstrated support and trust of us throughout this process. It has made this journey incredibly empowering. You remind us we are not alone.
Please stay tuned for additional communication.
Your Bargaining Team,
Shannon Potter, GTA and PhD Candidate in Economics
Dmitrii Marin, GTA and PhD Candidate in Computer Science
Nadia Ivanova, GTA and PhD Candidate in Anatomy and Cell Biology
MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Chief Negotiator
New bargaining dates are secured - April 14
Your Bargaining Team will meet with the Employer on April 18 and 19. Both Western and the Union agreed to non-binding mediation.
We want to thank members who participated in Solidarity March on Friday and the Strike Committee for their tremendous job. We also thank our friends and allies from different unions for their ongoing support and participation in our events.
GTAs reject Western's final offer - April 12
Your voice was heard, and the Balloting Committee, comprised of members from PSAC Regional and PSAC Local 610, has confirmed a vote to NOT accept the University’s Final Offer. This means that you have chosen to support yourself, your fellow GTAs, the bargaining team, as well as your local union. Additionally, your decision has paved a path for future TAs at Western University. We have shown the employer that we are serious about bargaining and are not willing to accept unfair working conditions.
We are grateful and appreciative for the support and trust you have demonstrated during the voting process.
The University has previously communicated that they will not lock us out of our research, student, and TA duties. Please continue your TA duties. We are NOT on strike. The bargaining team and strike committee will do everything in its power to make sure your demands are heard by Western administration, and we look forward to a quick return to the bargaining table.
We plan to be in close contact over the coming days. If you have any questions, send us an email. Your best interests remain our top priority.
RE: Provost's email from 6th of April
Janice Deakin, the University Provost, has sent out a number of communications in the last 24 hours (including one signed by Linda Miller). We’d like to correct some factual errors and oversights.
- Speaking to TAs, Provost wrote: “if you reject the University’s last offer, you and the Union would be on strike.” No one can call a strike but the union. When an employer calls it, it’s called a lockout. If TAs reject the Employer’s offer we will expect to meet with the Employer at the bargaining table. The decision to strike will be dictated by the best interests of our membership, but not by a deadline artificially created by the University.
- Although the wage increase offered is 2% in Sept 17, the inflation rate for food was 2.1% this year. Inflation will continue and a 1.5% wage increase in 2018 and 2019 will not cover increasing food costs. PSAC members already experience food insecurity and access the PSAC food bank at a high rate.
- The $200 lump sum being offered by the University is only for current TAs and will not be offered for TAs from the Fall 2017 semester or any future TAs.
- The Financial Assistance Fund is in the expired collective agreement and can be accessed by members [here and here].
- The increase in the Financial Assistance Fund and Extended Health Planwas financed largely by eliminating the Lead TA program, which saves the University approximately $100,000 per year.
- The current rate for overtime pay have been in the collective agreement for years.
- The University does not agree to address long standing issues that are cancerous to the academe: the University is not guaranteeing an extended employment period for TAs to better address the gap between funding period and actual program duration; they also refused to engage into discussion about protection from accelerated tuition increases.
- The Employer has offered to collect our preferences for the courses we TA, but has not agreed to language requiring consider these preferences.
- The Employer has agreed to provide a one time payment for smoking cessation programs, but has refused to do the same for mental health. Graduate students “are six times as likely to experience depression and anxiety as compared to the general population.”
However, she did get this right: the nominal wage increase in their final offer is 2%, 1.5%, 1.5%.
See you next week at the Final Offer Vote:
Wed, April 11
9:00am - Althouse Auditorium (FEB 1050)
12:00pm - Althouse Auditorium (FEB 1050)
2:30pm - McKellar Theatre (UCC 260)
Thur, April 12
11:00am - SSC 2050
2:00pm - SSC 2050
5:00pm - SSC 2050
Bargaining Update - March 27
Today we met with the employer for the first time since obtaining your strike mandate, and receiving notice that the University requested a “no board” report. Once again, our negotiations were in the presence of a conciliator, who provided the rationale for the university’s new proposal. The conciliator indicated the employer may have some room left to move. We proposed a package that included some movement on the percentage wage increase in exchange for tuition rebate and extended employment period. We aimed to get the best movement possible from the employer to bring back to members.
The employer responded, delivering their last offer, and stating: “We believe the University has responded in a complete way to the issues brought forth by the union.”
Our discussions were productive and the new proposal on the table is significantly different than that shown at the strike vote meeting. Major changes include:
- Language added for input into TA assignment
- Increase to $190 starting Nov 1, 2018 and retro-activity in Extended health plan
- Increase from $130,000 to $175,000 in Financial Aid Fund starting Jan 1, 2019
- One-time signing bonus of $200 to every employee as of date of ratification
- Employees awarded with a three- or four- year external scholarship will be assured GTAship for at least one year.
There will be a final offer vote held soon (in approximately 2 weeks). Stay tuned for dates and times. You will receive a final offer kit.
We recommend members reject the Employer’s last offer. The employer’s proposal contains meaningful improvements. However, in our view the agreement does not satisfy the top three demands:
- Wage proposal is below forecasted inflation
- No extended employment period
- No tuition rebates
If ratified, this agreement will not improve significantly the financial situation of our membership.
The Team continues to thank all members, the Mobilization Committee, organizers and Strike Committee for their work in supporting bargaining.
If the membership does not accept the Employer’s final offer, we would want to continue to meet with the Employer; however, because of the University’s recent actions, we know there is a very real possibility of there being a lockout and thus labour action on campus. Since a “no board” report has been mailed, we are at the legal strike or lockout position at 12:01 AM on the 13th of April. The best way to avoid this employer locking us out, is to show that we are prepared. Please participate in picket-sign making tomorrow at 4pm on concrete beach.
Your Bargaining Team (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Matthew Coady, GTA and PhD candidate in Chemistry
Nadia Ivanova, GTA and PhD candidate in Anatomy and Cell Biology
Dmitrii Marin, GTA and PhD candidate in Computer Science
Shannon Potter, GTA and PhD candidate in Economics
MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Negotiator
Active participation of GTAs is crucial to the bargaining process. If you would like to learn more about the Mobilization Committee and Strike Committee, or would like to become involved, contact email@example.com.