General Membership Meeting
VP, Unit 2 Morgan Rooney & Codie Fortin-Lalonde
Co-VPs Morgan and Codie have been busy these past few months with a number of initiatives that align with our stated goals for the year.
Among our top priorities has been the expansion of the involvement, participation, and solidarity of Unit 2 members. To that end, we created a slate of voice-over-PowerPoint videos aimed at communicating to our new and returning members their rights and benefits, the updates to the new Collective Agreement, the grievance process, our plans for the coming year, and more. One of our goals in this area in particular is to do more Orientation activities for our new members, and it is our hope that boards in future years will continue and expand upon these efforts.
Other efforts towards those same ends included hosting two Orientations sessions for new members (Aug. 31, Sept. 28). While attendance so far has been low (15~ participants), we are hopeful that we are building a culture in our Union where Unit 2 members connect with us at the start of their time at Carleton. On August 24, we also hosted our first Townhall meeting for CIs (15~ participants), providing our members a space to connect with the Unit 2 executive, to share their experiences, and to help us shape priorities for future action. We are planning to offer these Townhall events a few times a term with more Fall dates TBA soon. We have been using these moments of connection to solicit Union involvement from new and returning members alike, with a special focus on expanding involvement in our committees and caucuses as well as our base of Departmental Stewards.
Another priority for us has been seeking to protect and support Unit 2 members during the COVID-19 era. To that end, the outgoing and incoming board worked jointly on, and secured, two significant gains for our members via the JCAA. The first was an additional $125,000 payment from the university into the Professional Development Fund, in order to help reimburse CIs for additional expenses associated with teaching online. The second was a MOU on the subject of summer term teaching evaluations, which affirmed that administration would not use the results of those evaluations, ever, to initiate an action plan or any other disciplinary action against our members. We have already tabled language asserting that that MOU should be extended into the Fall term, and we are hopeful that we will have good news on the front before too long.
We are acutely aware that many of our members are no doubt working more hours than ever to deliver their courses online. We have raised this issue multiple times at the JCAA, and are in the process of tabling a formal request for additional compensation to recognize the extra work our members must do. In the meantime, we are making preparations to gather more information and make the wider Carleton community aware of the exploitative nature of the current arrangement, which asks CIs to do more work without additional compensation. As we type this report, we are 1) developing a survey to collect information on members’ perceptions of their workloads, and 2) our Mobilization Coordinator is working to launch a social media campaign to draw attention to the Carleton’s shameful treatment of its contingent faculty.
Our other tasks in recent months have included a mix of attending meetings (including bi-weekly meetings between the Unit 2 executive), addressing member concerns that reach us via email, and providing our Business Agent with some extra help in processing the numerous PDF claims we are receiving.
If you are angry, aggrieved, distraught, and/or dismayed at the current labour conditions of our CIs, contact your Unit 2 VPs (email@example.com) and/or our Chief Steward (firstname.lastname@example.org), and ask about the various ways that you can get involved to help your Union fight for improvements. You can also follow @cupe4600 on Twitter and Instagram, and find us on Facebook.
VP Internal Paul Smith
I hope you are all alive and well, despite the slow but continuous descent into a virus infected hellworld.
At its core, my position for the union is about ensuring the machinery that drives the union functions smoothly --- and putting things back together when they fall apart! As such, the vast majority of my work is focused on improving things behind the scenes, where I help manage the staff and the board.
The most important items on my agenda are:
1. Labour Management Committee (LMC)
The LMC is the contact point between the board and the staff of the local. This work includes management of the staff (e.g. granting leave, scheduling check-ins), the resolution of staff grievances, and dealing with staff working conditions. On this front, most of my work has been standard day-to-day management of staff affairs plus some extra complications due to the need for remote work. The most important work the LMC has done so far this year is to establish a temporary solution to a longstanding issue with the staff’s Multi-Sector Pension Plan (MSPP). We currently have agreements with all staff members regarding the MSPP and, thus far, we’ve had excellent compliance with these agreements. A more permanent solution will be attempted for at the next round of bargaining with Unifor 567.
2. Bargaining with Unifor 567
The union for our local’s staff, Unifor 567, recently brought forward their intent to bargain. I was chosen to be the lead negotiator on the side of the union, accompanied by Gareth (Unit 2 Chief Steward) and Lindy (Recording Secretary). In our introductory meetings, our bargaining unit has outlined our overall approach to negotiation with the staff: we will be taking a progressive bargaining stance and focus on making structural improvements (fixing job descriptions, better leave management, etc) to make the lives of both the staff and the board easier. As there have been no meetings between our bargaining unit and 567’s, concrete updates on which issues are up for debate and how they’re progressing will have to wait until the next GMM.
3. Internal Check-ins
I’ve met with most (with the rest coming soon!) of the board individually and discussed their current projects, goals for the year, and tried to provide any assistance/collaboration when necessary. This has been part of a process to both increase the accountability of the board for the various projects they undertake and to provide the support necessary for other board members to carry out their roles. This will be continued with meetings in the winter and spring to follow up on existing projects and address any new concerns that might arise.
I’m also active on both the Joint Consultation Committee (JCC), representing TAs, and the Joint Committee for the Administration of the Agreement (JCAA), representing CIs. Both these committees present issues facing our members (e.g. acquiring reimbursement for our members tech purchases required for online teaching) to the Carleton management.
VP Unit 1 Zoey Jones
Dear members and friends,
Since the last GMM, I'm happy to report that we ratified our tentative Collective Agreement! After bargaining and my role as chief negotiator was finished, I've mostly been occupied with the various tasks involved in fall orientation and dealing with members' needs while TAing online. This has included:
- recording and sharing a video summarizing highlights to the Collective Agreement
- visiting some departments' orientations to introduce myself to members
- meeting with the Joint Consultation Committee to discuss members' needs with the Employer
- exploring existing supports (like the loan program) to help our members get access to technology without paying for it
I am also taking on the job of supporting and reviving some of the caucuses that were inactive last year, including the Accessibility Caucus (meeting oct 20th) and Rainbow Caucus (meeting oct 26th) which will each have their first meeting of 2020 this month. Please attend if you're interested, as we will be electing a chair for each!
Recording Secretary Lindy Van Vliet
Hi CUPE 4600 Members,
I hope everyone is staying safe and well at this time!
My role as recording secretary is to ensure that all minutes, motions, and financial documents are kept up to date and maintained to ensure transparency to members and help the local run smoothly. My primary goal for the next few months is to continue the work of my predecessors and organize the local’s electronic files and archives to help maintain our institutional memory and make sure these files are accessible to the Board and broader membership. Thank you to LeAnne and Dan for the time they put in helping me learn about my new role.
I have also been active on several committees including the Mobilization committee and the Orientation committee. August and September were a busy time for the Board as we worked to make sure new members were aware of their workplace rights and the role CUPE 4600 plays on campus. A special thank you to Pierre for all the work he put into making sure Orientation went smoothly in this new online environment.
Finally, I am a bargaining team member in the upcoming negotiations with the Local’s staff and their representative Unifor Local 567, I am committed to negotiating a fair deal for both our staff and our membership.
I feel very lucky to work with the other members of this Board and our incredible Staff and I am looking forward to what we can accomplish in the year ahead.
Lindy Van Vliet (she/her)
Recording Secretary, CUPE 4600
Vice-President External Abram Lutes
It goes without saying that this has been an exceptional year – in our local, at Carleton, and in the wider world. I began my term as VP External in June when things were still heavily locked down, far away from the physical space we are used to working and learning at, and have been working and studying remotely since, much like many of you.
I think it is a huge understatement to say that our board has done some incredible things this year to maintain the strength of the union and chart a path forward through the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving swiftly to operating online, organizing an online orientation this semester for Teaching Assistants and for Contract Instructors, and of course organizing this first-ever online GMM. It also goes without saying that our bargaining teams have accomplished something big signing two collective agreements in the middle of this pandemic, in spite of a difficult employer. All this required hard work, dedication, and creativity. Our union staff – LeAnne, Pierre, and Dan – were also invaluable in getting us here.
We have faced our own challenges as a local this year, but we are far from alone. Our fellow workers in the health sector and other essential worker roles have met the incredible challenge of fighting this pandemic while continuing to deliver important social services, often without adequate supports or compensation from governments. Now more than ever, solidarity between workers across sectors and roles, between unionized and non-unionized, will be essential to determine the post-pandemic world and the kind of recovery we want to see. An important part of this will be the struggle for the nationalization of private care homes, which CUPE National has thrown its full weight behind and we can support at the local level through work with the Ottawa Health Coalition.
Before this pandemic, over 10,000 workers rallied in Niagra to protest the Ford government’s austerity, the largest union rally in Ontario since the early 90s. I and a number of your other fellow CUPE 4600 members were there. While we can’t gather in such numbers in times like these, we shouldn’t lose momentum. Part of our work this year is finding new and creative ways to mobilize members and be involved in wider struggles. We are making a start with this by taking an active role in the Ottawa CUPE Council, Campus United, and other union bodies.
I have attended a number of Campus United meetings to work out common issues and present a united front to the employer. An important part of that this year is having a strong labour voice on the Joint Health and Safety Committee, which I represent CUPE 4600 on. An important workplace health and safety challenge this year has been balancing access to fire exits on campus with the need to enforce social distancing on campus. Resolving this challenge in a way that keeps our members and all workers safe is an ongoing effort.
I also attended the online founding conference of the Coalition of Student Employee Unions, a North America-wide body of labour unions which represent student employees at universities. There were many productive conversations held and potential for sector-wide campaigns to defend and extend our rights as post-secondary workers and I recommend the union consider membership in CSEU.
I have also worked supporting our fraternal union at McMaster university, CUPE 3906. Their struggle is very close to home as their employer is trying to exclude TAs working remotely from outside Ontario from union membership, a blatant union-busting tactic. For as long as remote work remains in place, we need to be on the alert for attempts by employers to exclude remote workers from full participation in their union.
In the midst of this global pandemic we also saw the upsurge of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and Canada. The combination of high unemployment, rampant discrimination, and police violence has exposed anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in our society and the need to actively struggle to end discrimination at all levels. Importantly, labour unions took an active role in the BLM movement, with fellow workers in the American Transit Union refusing to transport protestors to prison and the International Longshoremen shutting down west coast ports to protest racism both on and off the job. We have played a small role in this movement by supporting the family of Regis Korchinski-Paquette, killed by Toronto police, supporting protest bail funds across the US, and working to revitalize the Cops Out of CUPE campaign.
We sent $100 to the GoFundMe for Korchinski-Paquette and $250 to the ActBlue bail fund coalition.
We also have worked to support the recovery of Lebanon from the incredible tragedy of the Beruit port explosion. Our executive board has elected to support an aid organization which works closely with organized labour in Lebanon, the Secours Populaire Libanais.
Pending board approval, we are sending $250 to Secours Populair Libanais.
Only a few weeks ago, we also faced a new challenge and tragedy when our fellow worker and colleague Cihan Erdal was detained and then imprisoned while visiting family in Turkey. Cihan is accused of sedition and a number of other serious accusations by the Turkish government on the extremely flimsily evidence of a handful of tweets from six years ago made by an account associated with the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) supporting protests against the Turkish government’s response to ISIS attacks on Kurdish villages. Cihan is no longer a member of the HDP and did not write or approve the tweets in question when he was. The trial is nothing short of a kangaroo court, with Cihan being denied access to a lawyer and not being formally charged until after he was imprisoned. Another labour activist, Sırrı Süreyya Önder of the Turkish cinema workers’ union SineSen, has also been imprisoned in the Turkish government’s broad campaign of repression, as well as several progressive mayors and women’s activists.
Currently, the unfortunate reality of the situation is that we will be campaigning for Cihan’s release for the foreseeable future. Canada has been hesitant to intervene in his case as Cihan is only a permanent resident and not a full Canadian citizen. A Cihan Erdal Support Committee, which I and future VP Externals will work with, is being set up by some of Cihan’s family and colleagues in Canada. Their goals are to financially support Cihan while he is detained (paying for his legal fees and food in Turkey) and help mount a case in Canada to pressure the government to intervene. The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and CUPE National is also very involved in this campaign.
I hope that once the Cihan Erdal Support Committee is established, the local will be able to support its aims with financial support and mobilization. We have an existing Turkish Academics Solidarity Fund which we can use to support the committee.
As part of the CUPE Global Justice Project, we continue to be sustainers of the Ontario Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP) and through them the support the Alliance of Concerned Teachers to build grassroots unionism in the education sector (ACT), and Empowering Workers, Forging Unity! - Campaign for a National Minimum Wage in the Philippines and the Regularization of Workers in the Public Sector (COURAGE).
We released our annual donation to the CUPE Global Justice Fund of $4000, which was matched by CUPE National, in June.
While there is lot happening in terms of the union’s external involvement, we have yet to establish a strong working External Affairs Committee. This is one of my main goals going forward, and I urge anyone with an interest in working on the struggles raised above or others that the union should have a role in supporting to contact me and working to form a strong rank-and-file membership for the EAC.
In addition to being involved in supporting the efforts described above, I am working on trying to make the role of VP External easier to settle into for future VPs by creating a digital “phonebook” of allied organizations the union works with regularly – including other labour unions, social movement organizations, and centres and clubs on campus. The idea is to have a dynamic, searchable excel file where groups can be looked up and contacted by the VP External without having to go fishing for contact information online or in old records. This gives us a better picture of the substantial relationships we have built up over the years, as well as helps us identify which groups are best suited to collaborate with for specific campaigns or issues.
If you have any questions about this report, or would like to join the External Affairs Committee, please contact me at email@example.com
President Narges Zare
Hello CUPE 4600 members,
I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe in these strange times. I never imagined starting out my term as President of CUPE 4600 in a global pandemic but glad we can keep in touch virtually.
I was acclaimed as President for the 2020-2021, following a year as VP Internal. This entitled me to a position on each of the two bargaining teams which began their work in the of summer 2019. I am happy to report that both collective agreements reached an agreement and were ratified by the respective unit members. Highlights of the gains for both units are summarized in videos and accessible from CUPE 4600 website.
One of my main priorities during my term as president has been to increase membership engagement. To do so, working along with Pierre Blais and VP’s unit 1 and 2 we made several videos to further communicate with our incoming and former members. Through these communications we informed members of CUPE 4600 role, their rights and responsibilities, benefits and finally grievance procedures. I also attended several departmental orientation sessions and reached out to new union members. To that end, on September 24th, I chaired CUPE 4600 Unit 1 orientation townhall and over 35 new members participated which was a significant outcome. During the pandemic specifically, I am aiming to host such regular virtual meetings each semester so members can share their experiences and help me identify member issues and priorities for forthcoming actions.
During my time on the CUPE 4600 board I have been part of the JCAA and JCC. Through JCAA we were able to secure extra funds for contract instructors as part of the Professional Development Fund to further compensate unit 2 members for any costs due to shifting to online teaching. Similarly, we handed a Memorandum of understanding to the employer through JCC to help reimburse unit 1 members for expenses associated with teaching online. We are waiting for the employer’s response on this matter. In summer through JCAA, we signed a letter of understanding between CUPE4600 and Carleton that for student evaluations of teaching which are administered for courses taught during the Summer 2020 Term, shall not be used by the employer to initiate any disciplinary action against contract instructors. I am happy to announce that we signed a new LOU on Oct 9th to extend this for the fall 2020 term.
Furthermore, at the JCC we have raised the issue of missing and incomplete assignment of duties for TAs and SAs to Carleton and are working hard to address and resolve the issue. I am also extremely happy to report as of right now there is over $750,000 in the employee assistant fund for unit 1 members. This has been accomplished through several months of negotiations at the unit 1 bargaining table.
Among my top priorities has been to improve working conditions of our staff and resolve outstanding issues. To this end I have stablished regular check ins with staff and working with the labor management committee to address and resolve current and former issues. Also, on August 26th the union received an intend to bargain from our staff’s local, uniform 567. Paul Archer (VP Internal), Gareth Park (chief steward unit 2) and Lindy Van Vliet (Recording secretary) were acclaimed to bargain on behalf of the local. I continue to work closely with the bargaining team to set our goals for bargaining. I am very hopeful that we will reach a tentative agreement with CUPE 4600 staff in a timely manner. An agreement that will further improve a sustainable, rewarding and healthy working condition for our lovely staff.
Finally, we are looking to fill multiple positions within the union. Most importantly, we are also looking for financial trustees. We are now 3 years behind in our audits and have a plan in place to finish the current audit as soon as possible. The trustees will receive training from CUPE Ontario and gain useful skills on how to do an audit. Also, if you are interested in getting involved in caucuses please contact the union for more information. There are several meetings scheduled for October and the international student caucus meeting will be in November.
I would also like to express my gratitude to CUPE 4600 hardworking staff, LeAnne Parrish, Dan Sawyer and Pierre Beaulieu-Blais for their exceptional work specially during a pandemic.
If you have any questions, complaints or just simply want to express concerns about your working conditions as unit 1 or unit 2 member, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to fight for your rights, address and resolve any issue that you may have.
Thanks for your continued interest and engagement!