Graduate Student Bargaining Update #3

PSAC Local 40004 Bargaining Update

20 May 2020

More Progress in Bargaining for New Graduate Student Employee

Collective Agreement



The bargaining team for Graduate Student Employees, PSAC Local 40004, met with representatives of the University of Saskatchewan on May 14 to continue the process of negotiating a new collective agreement. The team can report that it made significant progress in negotiations of non-monetary issues in this third bargaining session with the Employer.


Negotiations have taken a different form during the COVID-19 pandemic, as face-to-face meetings are not an option.  So the teams meet in virtual caucus rooms and in a shared virtual bargaining room, exchanging documents electronically.  While this is neither the most efficient nor most effective way to bargain, the Union team is making the best of the best of this difficult situation to advance the members’ interests.


Your team made progress on the following issues during the two most recent sessions: management rights provisions, improvements to training provisions, disciplinary procedures, processes around discrimination and harassment complaints, appointment processes, and statutory leaves.  Several significant non-monetary proposals remain on the table, including proposals on hours of work, a proposal for an employment equity study, and a proposal to ensure that faculty supervisors receive training on how to administer the collective agreement fairly.  We hope to tackle these remaining issues during the next bargaining session.


Dates for the next bargaining session have yet to be determined, but we expect to meet in June. We thank you for your support.  You are our strength at the table.


In solidarity,


Your Graduate Student Employee Bargaining Team


Naheda Sahtout

Sam Netzke

Jeffery Zielinski

Jesse Todd (PSAC Rep)

Silja Freitag (PSAC Researcher)

John Eustace (PSAC Negotiator)

Letter to Justin Trudeau on Behalf of Our Members

6 April 2020
Dear Prime Minster Trudeau:
We are writing to express our appreciation for your announcement that support for post-secondary students is forthcoming. Our union local—Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 40004—represents graduate students who work at the University of Saskatchewan as teaching assistants, research assistants, and student assistants. Our members have experienced considerable problems due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Graduate students cannot access offices, labs, archives, and field work necessary to complete their research. These problems are universal and affect graduate students in every department and university across Canada.
Graduate students are the future of Canada’s scholarly excellence in all fields of endeavour and will support the continuation of Canada as a research-based economy and society. To that end, we want to highlight to you the supports that our members need and that we hope your government will include in its support for post-secondary students.
Canadian universities have faced financial constraints for many years, so the federal government should provide funding that universities can give directly to their students.
Federal funding should require that universities:
1. Grant all graduate students, regardless of what year they are in of their program of study, an automatic one (1) year extension.
2. Provide all graduate students one (1) year of guaranteed funding
3. Waive tuition and fee payments until students can fully access all university facilities including offices, labs, research materials, libraries, and other campus services

An automatic program extension will give graduate students the time they need to complete their thesis and dissertations. It will make up for time they have lost due to the necessary public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. A full additional year of guaranteed funding is necessary to provide the financial ability for students to focus on their academic work. As not all students are eligible or able to take on the debt of more student loans, guaranteed funding is the best solution.
COVID-19 is a universal crisis that creates universal problems for graduate students, therefore, a universal response is required. Your government can lead the way by ensuring support for graduate students that will allow them to complete their programs and begin contributing to Canada’s knowledge economy.
With respect,
PSAC Local 40004

PSAC Statement on Tuition Increase



February 14th, 2020

Statement on Proposed Tuition Increase
Executive, PSAC Local 40004

We are deeply concerned by the proposed tuition fee increase put forward by the interim Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Post-Doctoral Fellows. The report proposes a ten percent increase per year for five years for domestic students with a 6.9 percent differential increase for international graduate students. These increases will put a significant burden on already financially-stressed graduate students.

As a union, our concern is the well-being of our members.  These proposed tuition fee increases will place members in undue hardship, negatively effecting the financial stability, food security and mental health of graduate students. The scholarships and bursaries the university is offering does not do enough to help students as the struggle to keep up with increases roughly five times the rate of inflation, five years in a row. There are no proposed needs based grants.

Graduate students teach classes, assist with laboratories/tutorials, provide research assistance, and many other forms of work at the University of Saskatchewan.  They contribute to the prestige of the institution through this work and their scholarship.  Nevertheless, many graduate students struggle to provide for their basic needs. The proposed increase will only make this situation worse.

Our union is currently in bargaining to renew our collective agreement. We will be taking this proposed tuition increase into consideration during this process. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and are in communication with the GSA on planning a route forward. We strongly urge the University of Saskatchewan to reassess their intention to increase tuition.

If you want to get involved in the fight back effort, get in touch with Jesse Todd, Regional Representative, at

In solidarity,

Local 40004 Executive


Annual General Meeting – March 21st

Our Annual General Meeting for PSAC Local 40004 will be held on March 21st at 4:30pm in Arts 146. A meal will be provided.

The meeting is open to all PSAC Local 40004 members. we encourage all postdoctoral fellows, graduate student workers and veterinary residents and interns to attend so that you can find out what is happening with your union.

The AGM is the time to elect our Executive Officers for the coming year.

Executive positions are:

Vice President Graduate Student Workers
Vice President Postdoctoral Fellows
Chief Steward

If you are interested in a position or have questions, please send your union representative an email:

A link to the proposed agenda can be found at the following link:

AGENDA AGM March 2019

We hope to see you there!

-The Executive of PSAC Local 40004