Unit 1 Bargaining Updates
(Teaching Assistants, Student Assistants, and unionized Research Assistants)
Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2020
Hello CUPE 4600 Unit 1 (TA/SA/RA) Members,
Below you will find an update on the current status of collective bargaining between CUPE 4600 Unit 1 and the management of Carleton University.
The Unit 1 Bargaining Team encourages all members interested in getting involved in bargaining to contact the Union at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view previous Unit 1 bargaining updates, click here
Negotiations between your Bargaining Team and Carleton management continue. There have been 19 meetings between the Union and Management since July 2019. While progress has been made in several areas, some significant issues remain.
In particular, the future stability of Unit 1 (TA/SA/RA) benefits remains uncertain. Your Bargaining Team continues to seek a solution with management that will avoid future suspensions of benefits, such as the one that occurred last year.
Please see the below information. If you have any questions, contact us at email@example.com.
Changes to the Bargaining Team
Unit 2 (CI) Strike Vote
Articles Finalized Since Last Update
Article 4: Discrimination and Harassment
Article 12: Discipline, Suspension, and Discharge
Article 23.5: Tuition Increase Assistance
Articles Still Under Discussion
Article 13: Appointments
Article 15: Working Conditions
Article 24: Employee Assistance Fund (‘TA Benefits’)
Article 23: Wages
1. Changes to the Bargaining Team
Shalimar Woods and Rukiya Mohamed have left the Bargaining Team to pursue academic and career opportunities elsewhere. Two new members have been elected to the Team: Josh Hawley and Miranda Leibel.
2. Unit 2 (CI) Strike Vote
As many members are no doubt aware, CUPE 4600 Unit 2, which represents Contract Instructors, recently held a strike mandate vote. Members voted overwhelmingly, at 92.5% in favour, to take job action if necessary to secure a fair deal.
This does not mean a strike will happen in the future, and it does not mean that Unit 1 (TA/RA/SA) members will be on strike. Before any Unit 1 strike could occur, Unit 1 members would need to hold their own strike mandate vote.
3. Articles Finalized Since Last Update
a) Article 4: Anti-Discrimination & Anti-Harassment
After nine versions back and forth, we have finalized a version of this proposal with the Employer. While we were not able to reach agreement with management on some elements, we have secured significant gains to this article, including:
Explicitly stating that employees’ pronouns will be respected in the workplace and that employees have the right to determine their own gender identity
Signing a Memorandum of Understanding that the Employer will work to update Banner (employee and student records system) to include a pronoun entry field, allowing members to state their own pronouns
Including personal harassment in the description of harassment, above and beyond grounds protected under the Human Rights Code
Allowing employees to request a separation between themselves and an alleged harasser
Requiring the Employer to provide training to employees on the impacts of domestic and sexual violence on the workplace
Whistleblower protections that protect employees who make good-faith reports of behaviour that violates the article
b) Article 12: Discipline, Suspension & Discharge
We have reached agreement on a major overhaul to Article 12, which will now include a more detailed and comprehensive discipline process, grounded in the principles of progressive discipline. The specific steps involved in the discipline process have been clarified, along with identifying which administrative individuals can actually issue discipline. The changes to this article will make it easier for union members to understand when they are being disciplined, for what reason, and what the potential penalties might be. A detailed progressive discipline process ensures members will have the time and needed supports to correct any mistakes before management can proceed to a more serious level of discipline.
Additionally, management and the union have agreed to change the length of time that disciplinary documents are kept on personnel files from 8 months to 12 months.
c) Article 23.5: Tuition Increase Assistance
We are happy to report that the Employer has agreed to pay out the Tuition Increase Assistance (TIA) rebate earlier in the term, in November, instead of at the end of the term. The TIA protects Unit 1 members from increases in tuition during their time employed as a TA/RA/SA, by providing a rebate each semester on any tuition increase.
Having the TIA rebate disbursed to employees earlier in the term has been something the union has been fighting for since the late 1990’s, so this represents a significant victory.
In addition, when their TIA rebate is deposited into their student account, members will now be notified by email, and will receive instructions on how to receive the rebate as payment.
We hope that this will address the issue of TIAs being automatically applied to next term’s tuition, and allowing members to receive that refund directly if they so choose.
4. Articles Still Being Discussed
a) Article 13: Appointments
The University Senate is in the process of changing the time to completion for PhD students from five years to six. Your Bargaining Team is pushing the Employer to provide six academic years (two terms per year) of guaranteed TAships for PhD students. This would essentially keep pace with the current system, which provides 5 years of TA employment.
We have made progress in agreeing to a concrete timeline that Assignments of Duties must be made, 5 working days after the last day of registration for the applicable term.
b) Article 15: Working Conditions
Management continues to reject the Union’s proposal to place some sort of reasonable cap on the number of students assigned to an individual TAs.
The Union recently learned that more than 40% of all TAs currently employed do not have an accurate number of students assigned to them listed on their Assignment of Duties form, making it very difficult to judge how to manage their workload. Additionally, there is an increasing number of TAs assigned 200 or more students.
There is currently no policy at Carleton that establishes the maximum number of students that can be assigned to a TA.
c) Article 24: Employee Assistance Fund (aka ‘TA Benefits’)
Your Bargaining Team remains very concerned about the future stability of the Employee Assistance Fund (EAF), commonly referred to as ‘TA benefits’.
The independent Auditor hired to review the funding and management of the EAF has returned an initial report, and appears to confirm some of your Bargaining Team’s concerns about how Carleton has managed the plan.
The final audit should be available in the near future, and will be provided to all members for review.
While management has not provided any actual EAF or wage proposals to date, they did prepare some ‘scenarios’ for discussion with your Bargaining Team. None of these ‘scenarios’ avoids a suspension of TA benefits during sometime within the next three years. These scenarios were discussed with Unit 1 members during the February caucus meeting.
d) Article 23: Wages
Management has yet to respond to the Union’s proposal on wage increases, which included wage parity for undergrad TAs. Management maintains that Bill 124 limits any increases in wages to a maximum of 1% a year.
5. Getting Involved
If you would like to get involved in supporting your Bargaining Team, or would like to attend an upcoming bargaining meeting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
6. More Information
If you have any questions about bargaining or the negotiating process, please contact us at email@example.com
The Unit 1 Bargaining Team - Zoey Jones, Miranda Leibel, Narges Zare, Josh Hawley, Pansee Atta, Meg Lonergan, Garrett Lecoq