Unit 1 Bargaining Updates

(Teaching Assistants, Student Assistants, and unionized Research Assistants)

Summary of Proposed Changes to CUPE 4600 Unit 1 (TA, RA, SA) Collective Agreement

August 21, 2020

This document contains a summary of proposed changes to the Unit 1 (TA, RA, SA) Collective Agreement contained in the tentative settlement reached between your Bargaining Team and Carleton University management.

While all collective bargaining is challenging, this bargaining round involved some unexpected and unusual circumstances in the form of Bill 124 and a global pandemic.

In particular, Ontario’s Bill 124 limited all spending increases by public sector employers on staffing costs to 1% a year, hampering our ability to seek appropriate increases to wages, expand benefits, or increase other financial supports.

Despite this, your Bargaining Team was able to avoid any concessions and make solid gains in several key areas.

All Union members are encouraged to review this document


Minutes of Settlement:

When an article is not amended, the existing language from the 2016-2019 Collective Agreement shall continue.


“Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs” is changed to “Employer” (also throughout CA).

Article 4: Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment

The bargaining team fought hard for significant changes to this article. The amendments are:

  • Expanded the definition of harassment to explicitly include “sexual harassment, gender harassment, racial and ethnic harassment, and personal/workplace harassment whether or not it is based on the prohibited grounds outlined in the Human Rights Code.”

  • Introduced definitions of workplace sexual harassment and sexual violence which includes conduct or acts that target a worker “because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression”

    • Included: Definitions of what harassment is not, which includes the proper exercise of management’s rights and inadvertent management errors

  • Introduced a recognition of the right of inidviduals to determine their own gender identity, “including the right to have stated pronouns respected and used in the workplace subject to the University’s technological capacity” and protections against discrimination or harassment based on pronouns

  • Privacy protections linking Article 4 to the University’s Access to Information and Privacy Policy, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the University’s Sexual Violence Policy

  • The parties agree that some circumstances warrant the separation of a worker from an alleged harasser, and the member may request such a separation

  • Employees are entitled to Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave (in accordance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000) without regard to the normal 13-week service requirement in the ESA

  • The Employer is responsible for providing awareness training on domestic and sexual violence and its impacts in the workplace

  • Whistleblower protection that protects a person from retaliation if they report wrongdoing by a person or persons in the campus community

  • The name of the article was changed from Discrimination and Harassment to Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment


Article 5: Union Security

Clause introduced to improve the accessibility of the Collective Agreement: The Employer shall make available a copy of the Collective Agreement that has customizable font size and is compatible with screen-readers.

Article 7: Joint Consultation Committee

The JCC will discuss the Employee Assistance Fund as a standing item on the agenda for each meeting, in order to prevent or have more warning for future EAF (aka “TA Benefits”) shortfalls or fund problems.

Article 8: University Facilities

After many years attempting to acquire more appropriate office space for CUPE 4600, the bargaining team has won language that secures the Union’s access to audio-visual equipment and computing facilities (subject to availability) and signed an Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that secures office space more appropriate for our staff and the needs and size of our membership. The staff will now work out of three offices in Dunton Tower.

Article 12: Discipline, Suspension & Discharge

Significant overhaul to this article, including the introduction of progressive discipline as a principle and process:

  • Discipline can only be issued by the Faculty Dean, resolving a long-standing issue of who exactly can discipline Union members

  • If a meeting regarding discipline is to be held, the Union member must receive a notice two (2) days in advance of the meeting, which will include the purpose of the meeting, the allegations to be discussed, the time and location of the meeting, and notice of the member’s right to have a Union rep attend

  • Clarified process and content of written warnings, and that they will normally precede any more serious discipline

  • Management can choose to suspend a member with pay, pending the outcome of disciplinary action

Article 13: Appointments

The bargaining team secured several serious improvements in this article, including:

  • Two more guaranteed priority TAships for PhD students across 5 academic years (10, when previously was 8 for 4 academic years) – this was previously 2 guaranteed out-of-priority TAships in the 5th year

  • If incoming graduate students work 130 hours in their first academic year, they will be deemed to have Priority for the remainder of their program (previously only applicable if the member worked 130 hours in the first term of their first academic year)

  • TAs shall be given their Assignment of Duties within 5 working days following the last day of registration each term. If a TA accepts an assignment more than 10 days after the start of term, they will receive their AOD within 5 working days.

Article 15: Working Conditions

Concerns over student-to-TA ratios and subsequent overwork was a major concern of our members. The bargaining team was unable to introduce a “cap” or limit on this ratio after extensive bargaining; however, the bargaining team won new language protecting members from overwork, including:

  • Linked overwork to TA-student ratios in 15.1, which states that when a TA raises concerns about their hours or working conditions, the Employer must consider the number of students and TAs assigned to that course over the previous four (4) terms. This is intended to protect TAs who are given significantly more students than prior terms with the same hours and expectations.

  • Introduced language that requires the Employer to meaningfully consult the Union before implementing changes that would affect the working conditions or job duties of our members

  • When the Employer establishes any policy relating to how many TAs are assigned per number of students, the Union will receive a copy of this policy

  • Introduced minimum marking deadlines: Employees shall not be required to return marked assignments or otherwise complete marking in less than five working days from the date they are given marking instructions and access to the materials to be marked.

Article 18: Evaluation and Employee Files

Disciplinary action shall be removed from an employee’s file after 12 months (previously 8 months) provided there are no subsequent disciplinary actions.

Article 22: Leave of Absence

A number of amendments were made to this article to improve the language and update the specific amount of leave to be reflective of changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. This includes:

  • Updated language to replace references to female and male employees with more accurate language (ex. “a pregnant employee” and not specifying the sex/gender for parental leave).

  • Introducing language that ensures parental leave is accessible to all legal guardians as well as parents.

  • Updated pregnancy and parental leave allocations to be in line with the Employment Standards Act, 2000

Article 23: Salary and Tuition Increase Assistance

Due to Bill 124, the bargaining team was constrained in what they could legally ask or fight for, with a cap of 1% wage increase per year. After consulting the membership, they agreed to a 0% wage increase for the first year of the Collective Agreement in order to secure stable benefits, with 1% increase per year for the second and third year. This amounts to:

  • Graduate Students Hourly Rate:

    • September 1, 2019: $41.70

    • September 1, 2020: $42.12

    • September 1, 2021: $42.54

  • Undergraduate Students Hourly Rate:

    • September 1, 2019: $24.03

    • September 1, 2020: $24.27

    • September 1, 2021: $24.51

The bargaining team secured a significant improvement in 23.05, Tuition Increase Assistance, by requiring the Employer to provide the assistance amount to members earlier in the term: no later than November 20 for the Fall term, March 20 for the Winter term, and July 20 for the Summer term.

Article 24: Employee Assistance Fund

As many members are aware, securing stable benefits was one of the top issues for this round of bargaining. After lengthy discussions, the following changes were made:

  • The amount of funds paid into the Employee Assistance Fund each year changed from $170,000 in 2018-2019 to:

    • Sept 2019-Aug 2020: $462,000

    • Sept 2020-Aug 2021: $466,600

    • Sept 2021-Aug 2022: $471,300

  • In addition to the above amounts, an MOA was signed that requires the Employer to pay an additional $175,000 into the EAF, outside of the Collective Agreement, due to the errors that resulted in the EAF exhaustion in 2019 and 2020.

  • Two changes to benefit coverage to ensure the CA language reflects the current practices:

    • Massage therapy has been explicitly added to the list of covered benefits

    • Eye-care coverage is now explicitly accessible to members who have other benefits that did not cover full costs

Article 25: Duration and Renewal

The new Collective Agreement, if ratified, will come into force on the date of ratification and remain until August 31, 2022.

Letter of Understanding Re: Workload Implications arising from COVID-19

The Employer has signed a letter that indicates they will make best efforts to ensure regular workload rules apply to members during the COVID-19 crisis. Further, the timeline for approving overtime has been shortened from 30 days to 5 days. This letter will be in effect until April 30, 2021.

Letter Re: EAF

The Employer agrees to transfer $175,000 into the Employee Assistance Fund (EAF) in response to past payments for ineligible employees (see Article 24 summary above).

Letter Re: Copyright

Employees who feel their materials created for instructional use should be copyrighted can add a ©[date][name] notice to the material to denote it as such.

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