The union of graduate student workers (UGSW) voted yesterday to decline the university’s final offer for a collective agreement.
Larry Gagnon, the union’s PSAC negotiator, confirmed that 72 per cent of graduate union members who voted were against the standing offer. Gagnon couldn’t say how many of the approximately 400 union members had voted.
The results of the vote were delivered to the provincial labour minister, who has appointed a mediator to bring the union and the university back to the bargaining table. The two groups will meet Friday, March 11 for one last day of negotiations.
“The university is pleased with the decision by the Minister of Post-Secondary Training and Labour to appoint a mediator to assist the parties in this matter,” said Peter McDougall, associate vice-president of human resources.
The union is mainly looking for improvements to the monetary package outline in the recent offer, which they feel compensates for inflation.
The proposal, which was rejected by the UGSW, would have set minimum rates of pay at $23.60 and $24.65 for masters students and PhD candidates respectively, with approximately $1 in raises over 4 years.
The UGSW is also looking for access to better employee records, called a closed-shop policy that would have all unions signed and registered into the union when they are hired.
Gagnon said the union does not currently have adequate data on its member base.
“There were ten members that came in to vote that there was absolutely no record of. They could prove they were members because they had the union dues on their pay stubs,” he said.
Finally the union is looking to language changes to policy surrounding workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and whistleblowing.
Gagnon said he is confident the union and the university can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“There is still some big issues, it’s only a few things, but they’re important.”
If the March 11 negotiations lead to a new final offer than the union may need to vote again, in which case the university may choose to have the government running the vote instead.
“We are confident that through continued discussions the parties will be able to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the bargaining process. The university remains committed to achieving a collective agreement that is fair and reasonable for all concerned,” said McDougall.
The union has been without a collective agreement since 2013.