Summary of September 21st General Membership Meeting

Marianne Hladun VP PSAC Prairie Region said PSAC brings fair wages, benefits that makes USASK comparable to other institutions. As a directly chartered local, we will be dealing with her directly.

Hassan Husseini PSAC Negotiator said union makes Usask TA/RA Union part of the collective power of PSAC has around 180,000 members around the country.

Hassan began by apologizing for the wrong link in the initial email about the survey; has been corrected.

Hassan highlights the importance of get member feedback. Members are expected to fill out the survey by the end of the month. For a strong bargaining position, it is critical that the negotiating team have as much information as possible. This means that members need to give feedback. The survey is a great first step. They can also email PSAC rep to give feedback.

Teaching Assistants, Research Assistances, Student Assistants, and Teaching Fellows are on the bargaining certificate.

Hassan has already served notice to the university that we would like to begin bargaining. Employer seems open-minded and welcome to the process. Positive meetings thus far means things are hopeful.

A collective agreement is legally binding on both sides and outlines the responsibilities and duties of employer and employee regarding health and safety, benefits, working conditions, salaries, etc. These terms and conditions are decided through the negotiation process.

As the first step in bargaining, both sides need to be prepared for it.
Hassan has requested the required documents from the University.

Hassan is currently asking for feedback from members and doing a comparative analysis with other universities that have collection agreements for RAs/TAs. The survey is important for forming the broad picture.

Meetings are also important – they are an opportunity to ask questions and inform negotiator & team of what the membership would like to see. Researchers are also doing comparative studies, looking at our size in comparison to other universities, salaries, contract language, etc. All of this research and input will contribute to the package put together by the bargaining team.

Hassan is preparing a Program of Demands which will set out the bargaining position. He will use member feedback and existing collective agreements to build the Program of Demands.

We will likely not be sitting down with the employer until November to exchange proposals.

Both sides have bargain in good faith

We will accelerate discussion in 2016 and the bargaining process gets more advanced.

Ideally by the end of the academic year in 2016, there will be a first agreement that will come back to the membership to vote on.

Negotiations don’t start with money because that will stall them at the start.

Bargaining Team and Bargaining Committee are both important.

Bargaining Committee is a broad group from the membership, consisting of 10 to 12 people, to represent diversity of membership. They will hold semi-regular meetings and liaise between the bargaining team and the members, help communicate with members.

Bargaining team usually consists of 3 members but because the union is so large Negotiator will request an increase to 5 members from PSAC. Members of the bargain team must represent diversity of membership at large and sit across from the employer at the negotiation table.

They are there to represent collective interests of the overall membership not their own individual interests. Bargaining team will make the recommendation to the bring forward the collective agreement to members.

They receive moderate financial remuneration for their time meetings with the team and the employer. As the negotiations near the end, their commitment can be very large. A lot of responsibility but rewarding experience.

There are many applications for the skills learned in the bargaining process. Also gain a sense of accomplishment in creating a document which positively affects so many of your colleagues.

On October 26th, the local will hold its first AGM and elections of the bargaining team and local executives will take place. PSAC Regional Office will provide education to members; will help new local executive when they have been elected. New executives will receive training and support.

Employer and the bargaining team is obligated to find replacement for team members who have to miss teaching.

Union dues will only start once the collective agreement is in place. Collective agreement likely not concluded until the spring at the earliest.

If negotiations drag longer than planned, team members who graduate can be replaced; alternative can be elected on Oct 26 or at a later point.

Very important to have diversity on bargaining team and committee before going to the table; critical so show university/employer that the union is supported.

Possible to ask for retro-active wage increase but that is something that will have to be negotiated at the bargaining table. It’s not automatically guaranteed to happen.