FAQ on GTA Strike Mandate Vote
1. Why would Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) have a strike mandate vote?
Almost half of GTAs report net income of less than $11,000. The last pay increase was 60-122$/year, but many GTAs saw a decrease in other sources (ex. WGRS) to offset it. Most GTAs see their net income decline when tuition fees increase and in 2017 fees increased by $170 ($280 international). PhD students are only guaranteed a TAship for 4 years, yet the average time-to-completion is 5 years.
2. What exactly are we bargaining for?
The demands list was mandated by a general meeting on October 5, 2017. The exact proposals of your Union and the Employer would be presented at a strike mandate vote.
3. Who can vote?
All affected employees are entitled to vote, see Ontario Labour Relation Act, s 79 and PSAC Regulation 15C.
4. Does a “yes” vote mean GTAs are going on strike?
A strike mandate (a majority vote in favour of strike) is an authorization, given by membership to the Union, to initiate a strike action. A strike mandate does not necessarily mean we will strike but it indicates that we are ready to do so if necessary. A strong strike mandate empowers the GTA bargaining team to negotiate the changes needed to the Collective Agreement.
5. What kind of strike mandate vote do we need?
The most effective strike mandate vote has a high turnout (the number of members who vote) and a strong strike mandate (the proportion who vote yes). If we get both a high turnout and a strong strike mandate, the employer will know that we are serious about our proposals. A high turnout is important because it shows that a wide cross-section of the membership is engaged and mobilized about the bargaining process. A strong yes vote is also important because the union is strongest when it is united. The Employer will be much more fearful of a strike – and more likely to negotiate seriously – if they know that a vote represents a real threat, and not just a bluff.
6. What are strike actions?
Strike actions take many forms ranging from work-to-rule to a general strike. The par- ticular form will be determined by a Strike Committee formed by GTAs. For example, work-to-rule is when workers obey all laws and rules applying to their work, but perform their work slowly or follow “the letter of law” in an effort to stall productivity.
7. How would a strike impact research?
A strike would be from GTA work, and is not meant to impact a GTA’s own research or any work they do as a Research Assistant.
8. Will I face retaliation (mistreatment, funding reductions, loss of TAship)?
No. It is your legal right to strike. Remember that faculty and staff are union members as well, and they should support us. Threats or acts of retaliation are illegal.
9. What is strike pay?
53$/day for a max. of 5 days a week with additional support through the Hardship Fund. These payments are not earnings and there is no statutory deductions or dues. PSAC members have built a multi-million-dollar strike fund to ensure any financial hardship is eliminated for members exercising their legal right to strike.
10. I make so little, so I can’t afford to lose even a portion of it. How can I strike?
PSAC national hardship fund is available to all members to ensure no-one faces financial hardship because of exercising their legal right to strike. There will be no members who cannot afford paying for food, rent or other basic needs. Hardship fund pay is not a loan.
11. How do I get strike pay?
You will need to sign in for strike duties, the specifics of which will be determined by a committee of GTAs representative of departments across campus. Duties will be flexible so all members (even those off campus) can access pay.
12. Do I lose my legal status in Canada?
No. Participation in an organized strike is a legal right of any employee regardless of the immigration status.
13. If bargaining takes too long, will I get my pay increase?
We are pushing for substantial gains and that takes time. We are also bargaining for retroactive salary increase. So you would receive a compensation for the period starting September 2017. This is the case even if you graduate this year.
14. How do you support GTA bargaining?
- Vote “Yes” on strike vote
- Talk to your undergraduate students, explain them why TAs may go on strike, ask them to send president Chakma a letter supporting TAs.
Sign our petition: https://goo.gl/FkkYLa
Have more questions? Email your bargaining team at email@example.com.