VP Unit 2
Hi Unit 2 members,
The term has been a busy one so far. Most recently I have been working with our BOA, Dan, and Pierre to develop a bargaining priorities survey that will go out to members on March 1 (if not before). Some of the issues will be familiar to many of you but there are a few areas within the current CA that need to be developed in order to meet new realities of our working conditions (e.g. intellectual property protections, pension, etc) and address uncertainties and deficiencies within the current language. Please take the time to fill it out when it arrives in your inbox!!!
We also need to gauge the types of actions members are able and committed to take in the event we are forced into a strike next fall. This is crucial information that we often don’t often have (or only assume), but a clearer picture will allow to make the necessary decisions to put maximum pressure on the employer.
Besides bargaining prep I have been meeting with several members to discuss ongoing concerns; many of these concerns stemming from teaching evaluations. In meeting regularly with the employer on this issue it is clear they understand the legal terrain surrounding our type of evaluations has shifted, and they fully expect it will be a major part of upcoming negotiations. However, we still need to push harder on this file as it effects everyone, but some members much more acutely! If you have had any issues with your evaluation(s) (and in particular if you felt any of the scores/comments targeted you based on your identity rather than your actual teaching practice) then please get in touch.
If you are called into a meeting to discuss evaluation scores with your departmental Chair, remember that you have options and can make a case that the evaluation is not representative or is anomalous. You are also entitled to have someone from 4600 there for support, so please let me, Alyaa or Dan know.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, the JCAA meetings with the employer have been frustrating. We proposed and continued to push a number of small, but vital, measures to deal with uncertainties surrounding how the Professional Development Fund (PDF) is administered and also around how course incumbents are notified about decisions that may affect their incumbency. If you experience any resistance from your Dept. Head in signing the forms to allow you to access these funds or if you feel there has been improper hiring in your department, please get in touch. As in bargaining, the employer is often reluctant to acknowledge the scale or scope of issues.
Last, I want to stress that it is vital that Contract Instructors make their voices heard not only in the Local in the next few months but also on campus more generally. A big barrier to being fully recognized by the employer is the fact that our work takes place in ways less visible to each other and to the employer. This challenges our effectiveness in reminding them that the university would simply not operate without our efforts.
So again please take the time to, minimally, fill out the bargaining priorities survey when it arrives and consider getting more involved in 4600 in the lead up to bargaining. If you have any concerns or questions – or want to discuss anything mentioned above - please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me @ email@example.com.
Greetings to our hardworking members,
This semester has been a mixture of known and unforeseen challenges. I have had the great fortune of working with an Executive Board populated by people with a diversity of ideas and perspectives on how we can grow stronger as a local. I have helped to support the upcoming workshops and our policy interventions with Carleton Sexual Violence Policy, but the main progress made on these issues has come from members who are new to the local. Our staff also continue to work hard, and the Board has recently reached a decision to fund more ergonomically-friendly office equipment to ensure our small office is equipped for health. I also recently assembled the Stuart Ryan Award Committee to ensure that the recognition of selfless activism continues to be an institution of CUPE 4600. Below I will provide a report on the known challenge of bargaining preparation, properly arranging our payroll system and the new challenge to maintaining access to our benefits plan.
I am very excited to have called the Special Membership Meeting on March 14 at 5:30 – 7:30 in Canal 2400. We will continue to develop a collective discussion around bargaining proposals and bargaining priorities. We are looking to elect an energetic, informed, and ambitious set of Negotiating Team members for both units. Frequent meetings of the the Unit 1 (Teaching Assistants) Bargaining Research Team set an unprecedented level of research and proposal develop being done by rank and file members. We will be discussing and molding the emerging proposals with the membership as a way of practising the collective development of priorities and red-line standards that will direct the Negotiating Teams. The Unit 2 (Contract Instructors) have also begun talking about proposals for both new and old demands that will be discussed with the membership and caucus meetings.
The local has accumulated a large amount of funds in our Strike Fund. Due to this accumulation and with CUPE National now agreeing to fund strike action beginning on the first day of a strike, our local should consider how we can use these funds advantageously. One way that these funds can complement bargaining preparation efforts, is to engage the membership with effective promotion and investment. Another way that this fund can be used is to fund locally designated alternative duties that are not always recognized by CUPE National. With funds under local discretion, we can compensate membership who work from home, do media work, or other important duties that take place off of the picket line. This will be especially important in the scenario that Contract Instructors find it necessary to strike without the support of Teaching Assistants. Discussions over the nuanced uses of this fund are taking place at the Constitution Committee and the Finance Committee.
Payroll and taxation
Something that our local has been able to accomplish this year is establishing our internal payroll tracking system. Proper taxation of honorarium, pay and benefits of staff helps to make our legal contributions to Canada Revenue Agency so that reassessments or penalties can be avoided. Though we have made productive headway in setting up our Sage payroll software for 2019, we have discovered that taxation was not perfectly deducted for past years. Our Data and Office Administrator, Secretary Treasurer, and myself have worked with our external accountant to determine the amounts that should have been deducted and remitted to CRA. We are processes appropriate 2018 T4s for Executive Honorarium and are seeking to address the outstanding amount resulting from neglect of taxation from staff benefits.
Health and Dental Benefits
A new challenge that has arisen is the exhaustion of the Unit 1 Employee Assistance Fund. We were notified that the fund may become exhausted in a Joint-Committee meeting with the Employer last semester. We were confused by this, given the recently deposited amount was the largest ever made into the account and exhaustion of past deposits had not been mentioned in past years. We requested further information so that we may identify why the Employer’s math was so divergent from our expectations. We have discovered divergences from the Collective Agreement that equip us to make a strong response. The Employer recently proposed an Memorandum of Agreement in our joint-committee, offering to make an additional deposit into the Employee Assistance Fund on the conditional adjustments are made to existing benefits. While we thanked them for acknowledging that continued access to benefits should be quickly restored, we are very skeptical about the conditions to this agreement. We are currently exploring ways that we fix the issue and restore access to benefits and researching the conditions that led to this interruption of benefits so that we can address them in bargaining.
Thanks for your continued interest and engagement, we will need all hands on deck for this upcoming round of bargaining.
1. Workshop & Training Strategy
We drafted a four phase workshops and training strategy. The first phase was to work on training for the executive board and to work team building and board cohesion. The second step was to get more of our 101 style anti-oppression that we run, offered by the EDC so that TAs can be paid to attend the trainings. This will help to honour everyone’s time and reach more members. The third step is to offer more advanced workshops for those who have already taken 101 style trainings. The fourth step is to work on praxis events with partners.
We have worked in conjunction with the mobilization committee and our mobilization coordinator to forward these goals.
1.1 So far we have moved forward on the first step by organizing an “authentic relating games” night for board members after the annual election.
1.2 We have moved forward on the second step by offering an anti-oppression training.
The next training is called: “Applying Anti-Oppressive Techniques in the Classroom Workshop,” and will be held February 27th in Southam 506 from 2.30 to 4.30 PM. This is a paid training through the EDC.
Participants will learn about challenging their own behaviors, recognizing racism, sexism, homophobic and otherwise oppressive attitudes, and will receive tools for combating such things in the classroom. The workshop facilitator is Sharp Dopler who has been an educator, community worker and activist for over 20 years. Sharp is a member of the Ottawa Indigenous community and is of Cherokee/Sauk/Fox and Irish descent. Sharp has presented at various venues at the local, regional, provincial, national and international level. Sharp is honoured to be considered a Traditional Knowledge Keeper and carrier of Ceremony in the Ottawa community as well in other communities. Sharp uses this traditional knowledge and Indigenous ways of being in the world to inform how the work is done.
1.3 As part of our third phase, two workshops are upcoming. The first is a conflict de-escalation workshop on March 8th. In addition, OPRIG is offering to host a decolonizing workshop.
1.4 As part of our fourth phase, Aylah had suggested making a “human library” event with labour organizers. We have not started working on phase four yet.
2. Communication with Members – Lunchtime Chat Series
We started to organize monthly events named “Lunchtime Chat Series” which consist in providing lunch and facilitating discussions around a topic that might be of interest for the members. The first Lunchtime Chat, whose theme was “Communities of Care”, was held on February 4th. It was a success and a valuable opportunity to hear about issues and concerns from the members. The second Lunchtime Chat will be on March 11th and the chosen theme is “Gender Dynamics on Campus”. Our main goal is to listen to our membership. We hope that the event also becomes a space for people to know more about their rights, to learn about available services and network with other members of the community. Moreover, the event can provide an informal platform to connect with members that might feel marginalized and generate more interest in getting involved in the union. If you would like to propose the next theme, please get in touch with us!
3. Communication within the Executive Council, Board, Stewards and Caucus Chairs– Slack
In the spirit of improving communication between members of the Executive Council and providing institutional memory to the caucuses and committees, the collaboration software “Slack” has been proposed to be used within the Local. We believe that Slack could reduce the length of emails, facilitate direct communication and allow for people to stay tuned on ongoing projects. The platform allows for documents and files to be inserted and semi-private channels can take place according to projects of specific teams. Voted during the Executive Council on February 15th, it was decided to start with a trial period until the next Executive Council. The whole Executive Council will be emailed to get started with the tool and a guide will be provided to the staff. The trial period is intended for the team to get accustomed to the software, to provide feedback and illuminate a longer term decision to be held during at the next Executive Council.
4. Rainbow Caucus
The Rainbow Caucus has been hosting joint events with Kind Space and Ten Oaks Project. We have so far hosted six Every Body Swim events. The next two swims are Friday March 15 – 6:15-7:45 pm and Friday April 12 – 6:15-7:45 pm. We are looking to expand our membership.
5. Women’s Caucus 
8.1 Sexual Violence Policy:
During the Fall semester, the Women’s Caucus worked closely with the GSA Consent Culture Committee to workshop on how to improve the current Sexual Violence Policy. We participated to consultation workshops and met with the employer to provide specific feedback on the policy on concerns that particularly affect union members.
In February, the Union met with the employer for a second time to provide feedback on the recently released draft of the Sexual Violence policy. We were concerned that the previous comments provided were ignored by the employer. Jointly with the GSA Consent Culture Committee, we are working on a letter that will be sent to the employer and widely shared on campus.
8.2 Drawing Event:
For the Sexual Assault Awareness Week, jointly with the GSA Consent Culture Committee, we organized a drawing event hosted by the artist Ambivalently Yours. We had a lot of attendance and positive comments for the event. From the artwork produced we hope to put together a publication a raise funds for a local organization.
8.3 Next Women’s Caucus:
The meeting will be held in mid-March and we hope to extend our membership. To the agenda are discussions around the next steps for the Sexual Violence Policy, a workshop for the publication of a zine and our possible participation to the Spin-a-thon organized by the Ottawa Rape Crisis center. For more information you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Other activities
On February 15th, we chaired the Executive Council.
We have been working with the Mobilization and Communications Committee to coordinate events.
We have been working with the Bargaining Research Committee for Unit 1 to conduct research and draft proposals.
We plan to perform exit interviews of outgoing executive members as stipulated by the by-laws.
and Jo Farrall
Vice President Unit 1
In 1919, facing massive unemployment, inflation, dismal wages and working
conditions, workers in western Canada mobilized with the intention of improving their livelihood.
During May of that year, 30,000 workers, both union and non-union, left their jobs to protest in
an event that would later be known as The Winnipeg General Strike. Demanding the right to
collective bargaining and the right to a living wage, these workers were beaten, arrested, and
forced back to work on June 25th through the combined forces of the police, government, and
employers. Despite occurring a 100 years ago, the systemic causes of the Winnipeg General
Strike still remain. The right to fair working conditions, wages, and collective bargaining are
ongoing —and while people across Canada have benefited from the historical sacrifices of
previous generations —the future must be fought for.
As VP of Unit 1, I have been focused on understanding teaching assistant issues in
order to create tangible improvements for the 4600 membership. These contributions have
taken the form a major collaboration between rank and file members of 4600 and the broader
Carleton Community in the Bargaining Research Committee (BRC).
Since striking the BRC on September 27th, we have researched TA issues and
developed bargaining proposals which address working and living conditions, with the final goal
of improving our collective agreement language. At this time, we have been writing language
changes with the intention of presenting proposals so the membership is able to give input on
these documents before we enter into bargaining. The committee is conducting research on
variety of topics including cost of living in Ottawa, take home pay for TAs, and comparing labour
standards to other universities across Canada. Another effort of the committee has been the
development of a quantitative survey for future bargaining. This was distributed in December
2018, and explores the areas of working conditions, living conditions, TA experience, and
bargaining issues. As data continues to be collected, the majority of participants have noted that
their TA wage does not cover their cost of living, and many must work a second job to cover this
As CUPE 4600 enters into the bargaining process, the BRC encourages the
membership to participate in the proposal drafting process with the hope that that our final
products are truly reflective of the priorities of our membership.
Unit 2 Chief Steward Report
Contract Instructors continue to experience arbitrary treatment,
discrimination, vulnerability to being targeted by students, and all
the hardships of precarity at the hands of an employer who treats us
as a disposable group of workers. It has been heartbreaking and
infuriating to learn of some of the situations suffered by our
members. I want to notice and thank all those who bring their issues
forward and who have worked with us to file grievances to defend their
(and all of our) contractual rights.
More Stewards Needed
As we head towards a tough round of negotiations under the Ford
government, my primary focus as Chief Steward for CIs has been to try
to build our union’s fighting capacity by offering basic steward
training to all interested members. Both Units are experiencing gaps
in our Steward networks but Unit 2 is particularly thin on the ground.
At present, we only have Unit 2 Stewards representing the following
(Women’s and Gender Studies)
I will be concentrating on recruiting and training more Stewards as
the expiry date of our collective agreement (August 31) draws nearer.
A steward training was held in February, attended by five members from
both units. Our session lasted 4 hours and the feedback was positive.
Another session will be held in March and going forward, I hope to
offer more cross-Unit trainings with the Chief Steward for Unit 1.
I support the proposal of a Grievance Fund to ensure we will always
have a “war chest” to be able to represent our members through a
costly arbitration process. I am also working on a proposal to create
a searchable grievance database as we have a Local with high turnover
of union representatives and need a way to preserve an institutional
memory of ongoing issues and precedents.
OUWCC Conference Report
From February 21-24, I attended the Ontario University Workers
Coordinating Committee conference on behalf of our Local at the CUPE
Ontario office. The theme “We Can’t AfFORD Hate” underscores the rise
of the white supremacist alt-right and the Ontario government’s
attacks on students and the marginalized. We heard compelling
presentations on these issues from various presenters and I have
requested copies of the slides of those presentations to share with
Outsourcing, reductions in services, and layoffs will be the easiest
way for most universities to respond to Ford’s cuts, according to CUPE
research. CUPE is offering cost shares for campaigns, strategic
bargaining workshops, member organizer and outreach training in order
to facilitate a fightback.
It was very much on everybody’s minds there that the Ford government’s
move to defund student unions is the first act in an all-out war on
the labour movement. It is feared that the next step will be to scrap
the Rand formula that mandates employers to deduct dues automatically
from our members and make union membership an “opt-in” much as student
union fees now will be. This will have a disastrous impact upon our
ability to function effectively and to represent our members. It was
proposed at the conference that we launch a joint “Opt In” campaign
for both student fees and union membership cards. We may wish to take
this up in our campus coalition work.
Technically, nobody is a member in good standing of our union unless
they have signed a union card, paid a nominal fee (which can be set by
the Local) and taken the oath of membership. Most Locals have not
enforced that provision of the CUPE constitution. However, it is vital
now that we do sign up all our members as soon as possible because all
who have not done so will no longer be considered as dues-paying
members if Rand is scrapped. Going forward, we should be signing up
members with union cards at every event and all of our Stewards should
be carrying them. The more members we sign up, the better equipped we
will be as a union to defend ourselves against any move against the
Rand formula. CUPE is asking Locals to adopt a “Stronger Together”
campaign and gave us a toolkit for solidarity building. Again, we can
request cost-sharing for this campaign, including book-offs of
members. CUPE is also working on digital cards to make it easier for
us to sign members up via tablets or smartphones.
Our Local is part of a broader network of CUPE university locals, many
of whom are facing the same tough bargaining climate. We have lots to
gain from coordinating our resources, knowledge and people power for
organizing and mobilizing. For example, CUPE 3902 at the University
of Toronto has put together a “Precarity Road Show,” which we might
want to bring to Carleton (with our own members participating). The
OUWCC will be setting up some conference calls across locals to
attempt to maintain our connections and share our resources.
Contract Instructors spoke up at this conference to say they are
already feeling the impact of the so-called “free speech policies” now
mandated on university campuses and that “Nobody is defending us.” It
is clear this is a workplace safety issue that affects all campus
workers. People put forward ideas such as an Academic Freedom Action
Committee and getting CUPE legal support.
I was part of an Action Caucus which put forward several resolutions
for the OUWCC to put to CUPE Ontario, including anti-oppression
training (in consultation with locals), equity representation, a
opt-in campaign, the issue of RCMP civilians membership in CUPE, and
member retiree representatives.
An “Our Time to Act” campaign is underway to advocate for the
elimination of postsecondary tuition fees - it is believed that we may
have a window of opportunity with the federal government to push for
the elimination or reduction of tuition fees. Locals have been asked
to get their members to sign the postcards “Postsecondary education is
a debt sentence” which are mailed postage-free to the Prime Minister.
More information can be found here: https://cupe.ca/our-time-act
The OUWCC presented an Action Plan which focused on coordinating
action and resources to strengthen our ability to bargain and mobilize
towards common goals. COAL (the Coalition of Ontario Academic Labour)
is also coordinating bargaining. We should note that the previous
OUWCC Action Plan was not accomplished and that we need to push CUPE
at all levels to make our sector’s priorities a priority in the
broader labour movement. OUWCC representatives are willing to come to
Resolutions passed at the OUWCC included campaigning against
postsecondary cuts; pushing CUPE to support anti-oppression training
for Locals; equity seats at CUPE National; training on trauma and
vicarious trauma, and the inclusion of international workers. Other
resolutions were not debated due to running out of time but will be
brought to the OUWCC steering committee to bring to CUPE Ontario.
If anybody has questions or wants to see materials from the
conference, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Aalya Ahmad, Ph.D.
Hi everyone! This is my first report, as I'm taking over the final leg of the previous VP External's term from December to April--and what a time that is proving to be, given our new provincial government! Below's a list of what I've been working on and who I've been working with.
Resistance against Doug Ford's anti-student agenda
I've promoted rallies against cuts to OSAP on social media and to my 400-strong email list, and coordinating with Wes on logistics for getting flags to rallies and pulling our members out. I also helped with smaller, highly targeted events to protest these changes in coordination with the GSA, CUPE2626, and UofO students.
Ottawa Fight For 15 and Fairness
Doug Ford's attacks on working people have not gone unnoticed by activists in the city, and as VPX I've been lending my support to the dedicated squad at the Fight for 15. I provided logistical support to and co-organized a phonebank to get F415 members out to a rally at Jeremy Robert's office in Ottawa West-Nepean. The rally protested the rollback of many protections that workers recently gained (paid sick leave, $15 minimum wage, easier union certification process) under Bill 148 in 2018. I also collected petition signatures on campus against the rollback of the $15 minimum wage as part of one of their organizing drives. I'm excited to see what sort of things we can accomplish over the next few months and I've been participating in their organizing meetings.
Ottawa CUPE District Council
I've been the acting president of the CUPE Council for a while, and I've been trying to get more of our affiliates involved to try and fill our executive board and getting us more organized. Recently I've made some gains on that front--at our latest GMM, we elected a new President from CUPE 1281 and elected several members-at-large from locals who haven't recently been as active in the council. We updated and revamped our website, we're organizing workshops for the year, and we're developing a plan to engage the rest of the locals in the city and try to coordinate resistance to cuts that we forsee under the new provincial government. I'm excited to see the council grow and take a more active role in Ottawa's labour movement.
Postsecondary Education Coalition
This is a new organization in the city looking to link together workers in the academic sector to coordinate against attacks from Doug Ford that target funding for the education sector. We've got active participation from several locals at Carleton and the University of Ottawa and we're focusing on growing the room to include representatives from St Pauls and Algonquin College.
External Affairs Committee
The EAC hasn't met so far in my tenure, but it will very soon: on Tuesday the 12th of March (room tba), we'll be meeting at 6PM. Please come out and help shape what projects we can work on and what organizations we link to. It's very important work, and I will provide you with snacks.
Other organizations that I've been attending meetings for but otherwise have not been directly participating in organizing for:
Graduate Student Association Council
Ottawa Coalition Against Ford
Drop me a line if you have any questions at email@example.com