FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Table of Contents
- How do I stay informed and get involved?
- Who is eligible to be in this union?
- Wasn’t there a union drive already? What happened?
- What can Graduate Assistants gain from union representation?
- Didn’t we just get a pay raise? Why should we unionize now?
- I’m an international student: what’s in it for me?
- What’s involved in getting TAUMUN certified as a union?
- How do I sign up? Contact us!
- How much are the Union dues? Who pays? How are they collected?
- What is PSAC’s role in our campaign to unionize?
- How does the negotiations process work?
- How does the union certification process work?, How long does it take?
- How does TAUMUN differ from the GSU or MUNSU?
- How will a collective agreement protect my interests as a TA?
Watch for and attend TAUMUN events throughout the term.Visit this site regularly as we will be updating it throughout the campaign.Drop by the TAUMUN office: ER4053 (3rd floor Earth Science Building)Subscribe to our email list: Email us at info (at) taumun.ca
You are eligible for membership if you are a Graduate Assistant, Graduate Teaching Assistant or a Graduate Research Assistant who is enrolled as a full-time graduate student who receives a stipend for services rendered at 56 hours per unit.
Yes, there was a union drive in 2005. After signing enough cards, we held a certification vote in December.
Unfortunately, after the vote, the university decided to delay the counting of the ballots by challenging all aspects of whether TAs should be allowed to unionize at the Labour Board. The university lost on all its challenges, wasting huge amounts of money and wasting over a year and a half of time.
55 No Votes
261 Yes Votes
Newfoundland labour law requires that 50% + 1 of all eligible workers vote yes to certify the union. Last time there were 529 workers meaning that we only needed 4 more votes. Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t count!
Because of the obvious overwhelming support for a TA union, we are trying again.
First and foremost, we will be able to negotiate a collective agreement. The agreement will reflect the nature of our work by stipulating terms and conditions that must be respected by the University (our employer) and arbitrary decisions and actions will not be permitted.We will gain a collective voice and be able to make democratic decisions about our workplace. Unionized grad student workers at other universities have made great strides through negotiations, gaining benefits such as childcare, eye care, assistance funds for international students and for professional development, intellectual property and academic freedom rights, to name a few.
Yes, it is true that in 2005, after almost 25 years, the administration decided to increase pay. It is not coincidental that this change came about because of the formation of an organized, unified voice for grad student workers – TAUMUN. However, without a union and a collective agreement to protect it, the pay raise can be abandoned at any time by the administration. Also, without a collective agreement, pay may be increased, but there are no protections against scholarship reductions. Without a union, will we have to wait another 25 years to get a raise?
Currently, TA, GA, and RAships are assigned arbitrarily and are not guaranteed for any length of time over the duration of a course of study. Grad students, international or otherwise, do not know from one term to the next whether or not they will have a TA, GA, or RAship. Once certified, TAUMUN will be in a position to negotiate contract language for successive TAships, which in union terms is the equivalent of job security. For international students, this will give peace of mind once assigned a TAship.
The campaign organizing committee will be planning a number of information and social events & will need a majority of workers to sign cards & vote yes to be successful!
Contact us! We will arrange for a TAUMUN representative to meet with you to sign a card. Signing a card is completely confidential This means that MUN and your supervisor have no way to discover whether or not you signed a card. Membership cards will also be available at TAUMUN events, information tables, and the TAUMUN office.
Membership dues are set at 1.49% in TAUMUN’s constitution. They will be automatically deducted from pay you receive for GA duties only and would be deducted directly from your paycheque by MUN. No dues are taken until the 1st collective agreement is ratified by the majority of GAs.
PSAC was approached by a group of Memorial GAs who decided to seek the support of a strong and reputable union to achieve better working conditions. After consulting a number of unions, the PSAC was chosen because of its powerful negotiating abilities. PSAC is a progressive and principled national union that plays a prominent role in Canada’s labour movement.
Fortunately, PSAC agreed to provide their resources and expertise to support us as we established TAUMUN – a union of GAs, RAs, and TAs for GAs, RAs, and TAs. PSAC’s role during the organizing campaign is to provide ongoing resources and support to help us achieve our goal of union certification. Once certified, TAUMUN will have access to all PSAC’s services, be they negotiations, grievance and adjudication representation, union training, legal advice, etc.
PSAC is also familiar with the needs of TA and RAs. PSAC has successfully organized TAs at other Canadian Universities.
For more info about PSAC, click here.
The democratically elected TAUMUN Executive is given the authority to negotiate on behalf of its members. PSAC will provide TAUMUN with a negotiator and research officer who will work closely with the Executive or its delegated committee to achieve a collective agreement. Local members can submit bargaining demands which will be put into a demands package for voting upon and ratification by the entire membership. Notice to bargain will go to the University shortly after certification. TAUMUN members will be kept informed and have the opportunity for input throughout the process. Once a tentative agreement is established, the Local votes on its ratification. Once ratified, the agreement becomes a legal document under which the employer and the union operate.
The validity of a TAUMUN Membership card for the purposes of the certification application is 90 days. It is the Organizing Committee’s goal to launch this second campaign the week of GradFest and to be in a position to apply for certification by the end of the term.
In essence, the process works like this: Step 1: Sign cards (September – November) Step 2: Apply to the Labour Board for a Vote Step 3: Hold a vote on whether or not to form a union (November)
Neither the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) or Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union (MUNSU) are labour unions but they do have legal standing within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, operating as autonomous entities. The term “union” in both the GSU and MUNSU is equivalent to “organization” or “association”. Student associations are valuable resources for all students and often work in solidarity with unions on campus. During last year’s organizing drive, both the GSU and MUNSU gave TAUMUN their unconditional support and we fully expect to enjoy the same solidarity this year. However, a student association does not address the specific needs of GAs and has no power to bargain with the Administration as an employer. A labour union gives workers the right to negotiate their pay, benefits and work conditions. It also provides workers with representation on labour relations matters.
The following are achievements that have been negotiated by TAs at Western University with the help of the PSAC:
Standardization of TAships allocations across departmentsContract language for continuous employment – once assigned a TAship, Masters level TAs receive 6 consecutive terms of TAships and PhD TAs receive 12 consecutive termsThe hours of work standardized.Rates of pay are negotiated 5.Remuneration for union work 6.A financial aid fund for TAs (Refer to Western University GTA Union)