Hello and welcome to all our members,
This semester has encompassed many expected and unexpected challenges. This report will outline the interactions I’ve had with the employer at our joint-committees and with the President individually, the work that I’ve been involved in with our Caucuses and Committees, long-term strategizing I’ve been developing with CUPE National, and other recent Executive decisions.
While it is no surprise that the employer has not been compliant with our demands at our joint-committees for both units, we have continued to meet on a roughly monthly basis in order to enforce our Collective Agreements and address issues outside of bargaining. At the Unit 1 (TA) joint-committee we have had to remind the employer to comply with hiring process and reporting language in our Collective Agreement. We have also requested more information on our Employee Assistance Fund in order to oversee the balance of the account that finances our members’ benefits. On both counts, the employer reps have been reluctant to follow their responsibilities outlined in the Collective Agreement and have even suggested that members may no longer have access to their benefits if they deem the account to be exhausted.
At the Unit 2 (CI) joint-committee, we have pushed for more open reporting about course disqualification and appeals to denied Professional Development Fund applications. We proposed Memorandums of Agreement for both of these issues, the employer said they agree with the reasoning for this but did not sign the MOA. We continue to build on their rhetoric of agreement in order to compel these simple and reasonable changes. Again, the employer reps have demonstrated a minimum level of willingness to improve our working conditions through reasonable improvements and seem to be reserving these improvements as bargaining chips in negotiation.
I have met with the President of Carleton, Benoit Bacon, three times this semester. The first two times I was invited so that he can get an idea of 4600 concerns and ask me questions on what we are looking for in the new Provost and improved joint-committee regime. I stated that we need someone who is of a mind to know and enforce our Collective Agreement rights. The third meeting I called in order to confirm agreement with our Q&A GMM presentation plan and stated that our invitation is conditional on his willingness to spend 30 minutes answering tough questions. This agreement was made and may be used in the Winter semester in order to give our members a chance to ask these tough questions and test the quality of President Bacon’s answers.
I have also provided support to Committee and Caucus Chairs by approving funding to make sure attendees are fed, and notifying Caucus Chairs of pertinent consultations that they could take part in. I worked with the Chair of the Women’s Caucus and our Unit 1 Health and Safety Rep to engage proactively in the consultation on the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention Policy and made clear demands that the university follow through with its rhetoric by offering meaningful accommodations to contract employees, invest in educational workshops, and create a policy that survivors will be able to trust. I have also continued to offer support and information to members broadening the representation of our members with new caucuses. Meeting with Executive Council on November 30th led to a productive discussion with our stewards, Executive, and Caucus and Committee Chairs.
After convening the Constitution Committee, a number of questions arose around our autonomy to collect strike preparation funds and hold more accessible elections. We have continued to contemplate how our elections can support the rights of our members to run for election while also elaborating our election format to allow for increased participation. While online voting has been deemed to not be affordable or necessarily more useful, we have discussed extending the voting period past the AGM for a couple days and announcing results afterwards. As we prepare for bargaining and possible strike action, we have also been engaged in thinking about how to gather or own source of funds in order to support a Unit 2 solo strike that could possible be less-picket line based and more based on alternative strike duties. I have been engaged in conversation with our National Rep, Danika Brisson, in order to work together on these tough and technical issues.
In our Executive Board, we have approved one of our staff to work from home on one day of the week. We have been working with a number of vacant positions over the last month or so and have also welcomed a new Exec member as of our last GMM. This mixture of accomplishments and challenges has led to, in my view, a developing team dynamic moving in a determined direction of equipping our members with skills and knowledge in order to move forward ambitiously in the upcoming round of bargaining.
If you have ideas on how we can get better prepared for bargaining or more effectively reach out to our members, please join these conversations at our Mobilization and Communication Committee, Bargaining Research Committee, or Constitution Committee.
Also, Holiday Party on December 7th, jointly organized with the GSA. People who would like to play board games and socialize can come to UniCentre Room 274 and those looking to enjoy a libation can go to Mike’s Place. Feel free to do a bit of both and bring a colleague.
Let’s make 2019 a year to remember in 4600 history!
Co-Vice President Unit 1
Jessica Gamarnik and Megan McGoey-Smith
In moments of ‘crisis’, the elite mobilize and reconstruct the past to serve their interests in present period. Static and uncritical, these imaginings of the world, and how it functions, are available only in appearance and surface —they are unconcerned with capturing the experience and reality of working people. As each new moment is inherited from the past, social change from below must constantly interrogate these entrenched imaginings —revaluation, criticism and reflexivity are necessary to create tangible change. Our current climate of anti-unionism cannot be separated from the past; our future cannot be imagined without hindsight and revision.
As VP’s of Unit 1, we have been focused on understanding teaching assistant issues in order to create tangible improvements for the 4600 membership. These contributions have take the form of two broad project: the Bargaining Research Committee (BRC) and the Accessibility Casus --each collective efforts by the membership.
Since striking the BRC on September 27th, we have held 3 meetings with one more scheduled for this term. We are well on our way to having bargaining proposals ready for the end of January so that the membership are able to give input on these proposals 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 among others. Another effort of the committee has been the development of a quantitative survey for future bargaining. Pending it’s release to the membership in early december, this survey will explore the areas of working conditions, living conditions, TA experience, and bargaining issues. This data garnered from this survey will contribute to the drafting of bargaining proposals which are being developed at an ongoing basis.
As part of the bargaining process, we will be releasing our tentative proposals to the membership at the next membership meetings. We encourage 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. This allows for a deeper level of engagement with the bargaining process building on the work of previous years. Committing to this timeline is especially crucial for those who are not able to be a part of the bargaining team in 2020. In this way, we hope to make the process of bargaining more democratic, decentralized, and reflective of the diversity within the Carleton community.
The first meeting of the accessibility caucus was November 29th. This meeting was the culmination of several weeks of planning. We hope to hold a second meeting in the new term. The hope was to draft bargaining proposals as they relate to accessibility in consultation with this caucus. One member has reached out asking to participate in the drafting of a submission for the consultation process for the coordinated accessibility strategy that the university is in the process of putting together. If there are any other members interested in participating in this process we encourage you to reach out in person or through email to let us know.
Marla Arbach and Laurel Ralston
The VPs Internal continued to participate in various committees this fall, in particular, the Mobilization & Communication committee and the Labour-Management committee, as well as helping to prepare for discussions at the JCC and the JCAA. While the employer's latest responses to our proposals have been disheartening, we will not give up our fight for decent treatment and respect. In addition to our committee work, your VPs Internal assisted with the local's business in various ways, including acting in the Secretary-Treasurer's stead to approve spending requests.
Due to other work, educational and personal commitments, we will be ending our term on December 31. We have enjoyed working toward the local's goals as VPs Internal and we thank the membership for giving us the opportunity to serve.
Unit 1 Chief Stewards
Meag Bell & Meg Lonergan
Hello CUPE 4600 members!
Our Fall 2018 semester as your Unit 1 co-Chief Stewards has been an exciting journey. Since our last report in October we have worked with our Departmental Stewards, joined the LMC, continued to support the JCC meetings, and worked to represent our members who concerns and grievances.
Throughout November, our focus has been on our new cohort of Departmental Stewards for the 2018/2019 Fall and Winter terms. We have reached out to existing stewards and conducted outreach and emailing in regards to incoming stewards. Reorganizing the steward database was a big task, but with a more organized system we now know which departments we need to better connect with in order to increase departmental representation for Unit 1 members. Our continued goal is to help foster a solid base of Unit 1 Departmental Stewards, who feel confidant in their abilities to handle complaints and minor grievances that occur within their departments.
Our Unit 1 Departmental Stewards meeting will take place on December 6, 2018 from 2-3 PM in Room 360 Tory Building. This meeting will be an opportunity for Stewards to ask questions, network and get to know one another, and learn more about their roles and responsibilities as Stewards. We have also been working to design and develop updated Stewarding information resources and fact sheets. The goal moving forward is to have these materials available online for current and future Unit 1 Stewards to use.
We have both recently joined the Labour Management Committee (LMC). Following the resignation of the current co-VP Internal we may become the only Executive Board members on the LMC. We recognise the importance of the role, and the duty of CUPE 4600 as an employer to treat employer - employee relations with the same consideration and respect that we expect from our employer. We value these three staff members, and strive to prioritize a positive work environment.
We have continued our research and efforts on the major Scope Grievance. The Scope Grievance is still at arbitration level. Legal counsel has been contacted, with whom we will be meeting with in the coming weeks.
The Scope Grievance involves Enriched Studies Program (ESP) Workshop Facilitators, Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), and Peer-Assisted Subject Coaching (PASC) Facilitators. Based on information gathered by the Union, these positions are held by roughly 350 people, and involve supporting online courses, grading essays, proctoring exams, and meeting with students as required.
Therefore we request the employer provide full redress, including:
recognition of all PASS, PASC, ESP, and course facilitators at Carleton University as members of CUPE 4600 Unit 1;
that the employer provide all relevant employee information to the union, including the names, contract details, length of employment, and contact information, for all workers covered by this grievance;
immediate application of all aspects of the Unit 1 Collective Agreement, including wages, access to benefits, training and all other rights contained therein, to all individuals currently engaged in PASS, PASC, ESP, or course facilitator work;
retroactive payment of all wages owing to any and all individuals previously or currently engaged in PASS, PASC, ESP, or course facilitator work;
that the employer notify all affected employees that they are members of CUPE 4600 Unit 1, as well as provide a copy of the Unit 1 Collective Agreement and the union’s contact information.
Any other measure to make CUPE 4600 whole.
We have also continued daily work to address smaller complaints and grievances from our Unit 1 members. We have attended a number of meetings with the employer to represent and provide support for our members. At the moment, none of these complaints or grievances have escalated beyond Stage Two.
We are still looking for members to fill a number of Departmental Steward positions! If you wish to be a Steward or would like more information on how to become one, please reach out to us!
Thank you for reading, we hope to see you all at the Holiday Party at Mike’s Place on December 7th.