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membership@cupe3913.on.ca

HISTORY OF CUPE LOCAL 3913

Unionization of graduate teaching assistants, graduate service assistants, undergraduate teaching assistants, and sessional lecturers at the University of Guelph was considered a number of times between 1984 and 1992. In early 1992, the convergence of a number of events served to catalyse Guelph graduate students into action. After shouldering greater than a 60% increase in tuition fees over the previous three years, graduate students were informed of administration’s plans to eliminate completely the post-residency tuition fee differential. This created the climate to undertake a serious drive for unionization. 1992

 

• The lack of a true bargaining relationship between the University administration and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) prompted graduate students to hold consultation meetings with the Canadian Union of Educational Workers (CUEW). CUEW formed in 1975 and represented teaching assistants and contract faculty at many universities across the country. The responsibility for investigating unionization fell to the GSA’s Vice-President External. Preliminary meetings occurred with CUEW throughout July.

 

• The Guelph Educational Workers’ Organising Committee (EWOC) was formed on August 5. EWOC distributed information and held meetings throughout August, and had a large presence at Graduate Student Orientation Days on September 9 & 10. A university-wide information meeting was held on September 14.

 

• At the GSA Board of Directors meeting on September 15, EWOC made a presentation and asked for the GSA’s endorsement of the unionisation effort. The GSA Board of Directors was not comfortable with voting on the issue on September 15, and a special Board meeting was arranged for September 30. At the September 30 meeting, the vote was approximately 2 to 1 against the GSA supporting unionisation. Another motion was passed stipulating that the GSA remain neutral on the issue.

 

• Campus support for EWOC continued to be strong in the Fall semester, however, with key endorsements from campus organisations such as the Women’s Resource Centre, the Central Student Association (CSA) and The Ontarion newspaper. 1993

 

• The GSA approached the Administration early in the Fall semester, saying it was time for a change. The GSA and the CSA had been recognised as “bargaining agents” by the Government of Ontario for the Social Contract talks, and had found the process quite frustrating, as the Administration refused to discuss tuition levels or the TA wage/bursary negotiations in the context of the Social Contract. Both the GSA and CSA ended up abandoning the Social Contract discussions.

 

• The GSA proposed a restructuring of the GTA Advisory Committee, the body which discussed the pay and working conditions of teaching assistants. The GSA felt the Committee was inequitable and failed to serve the needs of graduate students. Specifically, the GSA asked for equal representation on the Advisory Committee (rather than the 4 GSA appointees out of a total of 11 Committee seats that existed at the time), and asked that they be able to have meaningful negotiations around the terms and conditions of work for themselves and sessional lecturers. In addition, they asked that both the GSA and the University have access to binding arbitration. The proposal was rejected by the Administration. The Administration “conceded” to give students 4 votes on a committee of 8, but the Committee’s Chair, effectively a ninth member and a member of the Administration, would vote in the case of tie. Moreover, the University wanted the Committee to be advisory rather than binding, and advisory to the Vice-President Academic rather than to the President. • When attempts at restructuring the GTA Advisory Committee failed, another drive for unionization followed. Sessionals, TAs, and SAs were encouraged once again to join the Union. 1994

 

• During the Winter Semester, CUEW successfully organised enough Teaching Assistants and Sessional Lecturers to have a university-wide vote, held by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The vote was held on April 7 and 8 and was successful.

 

• On April 17, Local 13 of the Canadian Union of Educational Workers was formed.

 

• On September 28, CUEW Local 13 was certified by the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

 

• In November, all CUEW locals agreed, through a membership referendum, to merge with the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The merger provided CUEW locals with a comprehensive assortment of research, legal, and employment services not formerly available and connected CUEW members with the largest union in Canada.

 

• The GSA passed a motion recognizing its common interests with the Union and empowering its representatives to work in cooperation with the Union to advance the interests of graduate students at the University. The VP Internal was charged with the responsibility of being the liaison between the two organizations. 1995

 

• On January 1, CUEW Local 13 became Local 3913 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

 

• The first Collective Agreements for Units 1 and 2 were negotiated in the Winter and Spring semesters and came into effect September 4. The Union had negotiated a 4% salary increase for Teaching/Service Assistants and Sessionals.

 

• During the fall semester the Union became aware that two University departments had reduced their research-related stipend in order to offset the pay increase to GTAs. In November, the Union filed a policy grievance against the University along with an unfair labour practice application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. 1996

 

• On May 23, following several months of discussion on the stipend issue, the Union and the University signed an agreement which returned approximately $12,000 to the GTAs affected by the reduced research stipends.

 

• On September 4, both the Unit 1 and Unit 2 Collective Agreements expired. The Union began preparing proposals for upcoming collective bargaining. 1997 • On January 31, Unit 1 began contract negotiations for its second contract. Dramatic tuition increases in 1996, and the possibility of further increases in 1997, placed wages at the forefront of the Union’s concerns. On February 20, the Union informed the University that a conciliator would be required to reach a settlement. While a great deal of progress had been made in meetings throughout the month of February, the Union considered a settlement unattainable without third-party intervention due to the University’s position on wages and tuition rebates.

 

• During the Winter Semester, members of the Local’s Executive played an active role in a semester-long information/awareness campaign and a seven-day occupation of the Presidential offices in the UC to protest the University’s proposed tuition increases for the 1997/98 academic year. During the ongoing contract negotiations, the Unit 1 bargaining team regularly reminded the University negotiators of the absolute need for tuition bursaries for members of the bargaining unit.

 

• A contract settlement was reached following a day-long conciliation meeting on April 17. While the Union was not satisfied with the University’s wage proposals, a number of gains had been made in contract language and in University commitments to health care refunds for International students and dental care for all members. As well, to address the Union’s calls for a tuition rebate, the University provided a lump-sum payment to all employed within Unit 1 on the date of signing. • Contract negotiations for Unit 2 were scheduled for the Fall 1997 semester. Priorities included improvements to the wages and benefits package, paid research time, job security, and recognition of the value of the contributions Sessional Lecturers make to the functioning of the University. presentation and asked for the GSA’s endorsement of the unionisation effort. The GSA Board of Directors was not comfortable with voting on the issue on September 15, and a special Board meeting was arranged for September 30. At the September 30 meeting, the vote was approximately 2 to 1 against the GSA supporting unionisation. Another motion was passed stipulating that the GSA remain neutral on the issue.

 

• Campus support for EWOC continued to be strong in the Fall semester, however, with key endorsements from campus organisations such as the Women’s Resource Centre, the Central Student Association (CSA) and The Ontarion newspaper. 1993

 

• The GSA approached the Administration early in the Fall semester, saying it was time for a change. The GSA and the CSA had been recognised as “bargaining agents” by the Government of Ontario for the Social Contract talks, and had found the process quite frustrating, as the Administration refused to discuss tuition levels or the TA wage/bursary negotiations in the context of the Social Contract. Both the GSA and CSA ended up abandoning the Social Contract discussions.

 

• The GSA proposed a restructuring of the GTA Advisory Committee, the body which discussed the pay and working conditions of teaching assistants. The GSA felt the Committee was inequitable and failed to serve the needs of graduate students. Specifically, the GSA asked for equal representation on the Advisory Committee (rather than the 4 GSA appointees out of a total of 11 Committee seats that existed at the time), and asked that they be able to have meaningful negotiations around the terms and conditions of work for themselves and sessional lecturers. In addition, they asked that both the GSA and the University have access to binding arbitration. The proposal was rejected by the Administration. The Administration “conceded” to give students 4 votes on a committee of 8, but the Committee’s Chair, effectively a ninth member and a member of the Administration, would vote in the case of tie. Moreover, the University wanted the Committee to be advisory rather than binding, and advisory to the Vice-President Academic rather than to the President.

 

• When attempts at restructuring the GTA Advisory Committee failed, another drive for unionization followed. Sessionals, TAs, and SAs were encouraged once again to join the Union. 1994 • During the Winter Semester, CUEW successfully organised enough Teaching Assistants and Sessional Lecturers to have a university-wide vote, held by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The vote was held on April 7 and 8 and was successful. • On April 17, Local 13 of the Canadian Union of Educational Workers was formed.

 

• On September 28, CUEW Local 13 was certified by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. • In November, all CUEW locals agreed, through a membership referendum, to merge with the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The merger provided CUEW locals with a comprehensive assortment of research, legal, and employment services not formerly available and connected CUEW members with the largest union in Canada.

 

• The GSA passed a motion recognizing its common interests with the Union and empowering its representatives to work in cooperation with the Union to advance the interests of graduate students at the University. The VP Internal was charged with the responsibility of being the liaison between the two organizations. 1995

 

• On January 1, CUEW Local 13 became Local 3913 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

 

• The first Collective Agreements for Units 1 and 2 were negotiated in the Winter and Spring semesters and came into effect September 4. The Union had negotiated a 4% salary increase for Teaching/Service Assistants and Sessionals.

 

• During the fall semester the Union became aware that two University departments had reduced their research-related stipend in order to offset the pay increase to GTAs. In November, the Union filed a policy grievance against the University along with an unfair labour practice application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. 1996

 

• On May 23, following several months of discussion on the stipend issue, the Union and the University signed an agreement which returned approximately $12,000 to the GTAs affected by the reduced research stipends.

 

• On September 4, both the Unit 1 and Unit 2 Collective Agreements expired. The Union began preparing proposals for upcoming collective bargaining. 1997

 

• On January 31, Unit 1 began contract negotiations for its second contract. Dramatic tuition increases in 1996, and the possibility of further increases in 1997, placed wages at the forefront of the Union’s concerns. On February 20, the Union informed the University that a conciliator would be required to reach a settlement. While a great deal of progress had been made in meetings throughout the month of February, the Union considered a settlement unattainable without third-party intervention due to the University’s position on wages and tuition rebates.

 

• During the Winter Semester, members of the Local’s Executive played an active role in a semester-long information/awareness campaign and a seven-day occupation of the Presidential offices in the UC to protest the University’s proposed tuition increases for the 1997/98 academic year. During the ongoing contract negotiations, the Unit 1 bargaining team regularly reminded the University negotiators of the absolute need for tuition bursaries for members of the bargaining unit.

 

• A contract settlement was reached following a day-long conciliation meeting on April 17. While the Union was not satisfied with the University’s wage proposals, a number of gains had been made in contract language and in University commitments to health care refunds for International students and dental care for all members. As well, to address the Union’s calls for a tuition rebate, the University provided a lump-sum payment to all employed within Unit 1 on the date of signing.

 

• Contract negotiations for Unit 2 were scheduled for the Fall 1997 semester. Priorities included improvements to the wages and benefits package, paid research time, job security, and recognition of the value of the contributions Sessional Lecturers make to the functioning of the University.

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