Emergency Meeting of Strike Coordination Committee

Dear Members,

There will be an emergency meeting of the Strike Coordination Committee on Monday, April 2nd at 6:00 in the Union Office. All members of the Committee are urged to attend. We will post information on multiple picket captain workshops early next week. We will keep you posted.


-The CUPE 2278 Executive

Official Numbers for the March 2012 Strike Vote

After some fact checking, we can now announce that there were approximately 2,300 members eligible to vote. Of those, 810 voted; 655 voted yes; 150 voted no. There were 5 spoiled ballots.

The percentage of voters who turned out is definitely comparable to the 2003 vote of CUPE 2278. We are searching for the exact numbers from 2003, but we are confident they are similar to our turnout . Given the total lack of official access to the e-mail addresses of our members to promote a very fast campaign, the executive considers the numbers strong. In comparison to other democratic votes, particularly votes on the UBC campus, these vote numbers also compare favourably.

Regarding timeliness of our information releases, we apologize. We strive for a fast turnaround. Please consider that the exec members have jobs, research deadlines, and classes that we must balance with our research for the union, meetings, as well as dozens of individual responses to e-mails from media/members each day.

You keep us sharp, so keep asking questions. We will report to you how the employer responds after Tuesday’s bargaining session.


-The CUPE 2278 Exec


Come to the GSS office TODAY to participate in the strike vote.


The polls are open from 8 AM to 8 PM today.


Please bring one piece of ID


Did you know?


On Thursday, March 15 local CUPE 116 (UBC) obtained a successful strike vote. 75% of the local’s membership cast a ballot. 89% voted in favour of potential labour action. An eclectic assortment of U.B.C employee’s (custodians, brick layers, electricians, gardeners, food service workers) came together to let the university know that they are willing to fight for fair working conditions.


Our members have been very vocal that our goals in bargaining need to be about more than simply increasing compensation for teaching assistants. T.A.s have expressed the importance of supporting their fellow UBC workers. Though there is certainly outrage at the amount of remuneration we receive in comparison to T.A.s at other universities, (http://cupe2278.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Steward_march_2012.pdf) we are ultimately fighting for more than just ourselves. We are striving to create equitable working conditions for all UBC employees.

Question: How can we achieve this goal?

Answer: By voting yes on the March 22 strike vote.

The more closely we coordinate with other locals the stronger our message to UBC becomes. We let this university know that the workers on this campus are not isolated groups competing against each other for a bigger piece of the pie. By standing united we demonstrate to the administration that we are committed to making UBC a fair place to work for everyone.


We look forward to seeing you at the polls today.


-The CUPE 2278 Exec

Strike Pay Update

We learned some new information that clarifies that strike pay will be $250 per week. We realized that there was another body of funds that applies.

Now, keep in mind that a positive vote does not mean we will to go on strike. However, this is an important figure that we ask that you share with everyone so that they are informed of the $50 difference.

Strike Vote: Why Vote “Yes”?

Why vote “yes”?

A “yes” vote is a show of support for your bargaining team. If we are to make gains at the table, we must support the bargaining team, and a strong positive strike vote is a clear sign of support from the membership. And the threat of a strike means our issues have to be taken seriously; a strong positive strike vote makes it possible for us to make gains at the table.

From   http://ubyssey.ca/news/janitors-service-staff-to-vote-on-strike556/:

Lucie McNeill, director of UBC Public Affairs, said strike votes are a normal part of negotiations. “The reason why strike votes are often taken is so that the bargaining team for the union comes back with a stronger mandate to the table,” she said. “We understand that, and we respect that.”

Does a positive strike vote mean we are on strike?

No. A strike vote is part of our normal process. See the Job Action FAQ for more details.

What are the main issues? What is our Union trying to get for TAs at UBC?

  • Extended rehiring preference. This means that PhD students would receive hiring preference until their 5th year, instead of just their 4th, and that Masters students would receive hiring preference until a 3rd year, instead of just their 2nd.
  • A wage increase, to narrow the gap between TAs at UBC and our peers at the University of Toronto
  • A COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) clause, to protect our wages against inflation
  • Tuition waiver, because any increase in tuition is a cut to our wages

So it’s all about money, right?

No. As both the Union and the Employer agree, extended rehiring preference is not a monetary issue. It does not affect how much money UBC spends on TAs.

Extended preference is a matter of facing the reality of graduate education in the 21st century: as UBC’s own reports show, graduate students generally take significantly longer than 4 years to complete a PhD program; the Union believes that our rehiring preference should be brought in line with actual completion times.

Why do you want to match the University of Toronto? They have a way better contract than we do already!

We are willing to bargain with the employer for this. The Union has tabled a wage increase that would bring our wages to parity with UofT TAs as an opening proposal. We expect to bargain on this because UBC is very comparable to UofT. UBC compares itself to UofT academically, and UofT TAs do the same work that UBC TAs do–yet undergraduate TAs at U of T make more than PhD student TAs at UBC!

Why ask for a COLA clause?

As we have talked about on elsewhere our website, the BC government set a “net zero” mandate for the two years 2010-2012. Nominally, this means that no employee group on campus could get a contract with an increase in compensation structures for those two years. But it is more complicated than that: UBC employees making over $75,000 in each of 2010 and 2011 saw an average increase in compensation of 2.92%, or $2876. This is possible because these employees have provisions in their contracts that protect them against “net zero” mandates. TAs do not have any such language; the Union wants to see that change. A COLA clause would at least prevent our wages from falling behind inflation in years when it is impossible to negotiate a wage increase. That is, a COLA clause would at least prevent our real wages from decreasing.

Why seek tuition waiver in the Collective Agreement? Isn’t that a student issue? Also, don’t many graduate students already have tuition relief?

1. Being a student is a condition of employment at UBC. Tuition waiver, like a COLA clause, offers our members coverage against having their wages clawed back.

2. We seek tuition waiver in the Collective Agreement in part because that makes it harder to take away. In 2004, UBC granted a full tuition waiver  to all PhD students in their first four years of study, but there was nothing legally preventing them from taking that tuition award away. Sure enough, in 2007 UBC removed the tuition award. We should try to secure this for all students.

TA Strike Vote Announcement

Dear Teaching Assistants,

The Union will be holding a Strike Vote on Thursday March 22 from 8 AM to 8 PM, Graduate Student Society Building - #225 – 6371 Crescent Rd.

Prior to the actual voting day, there will be a Strike Vote Information Meeting on Wednesday March 21, 5 PM, Woodward Building – Room 2 (see map):

Over the past year and a half we have presented our research-based proposals to the employer and have been disappointed over and over again.

The employer is ultimately responsible for its budget and has the power to help us. We have seen other universities demand to be taken seriously and get monetary results and a new agreement (click here to learn about the University of Toronto). U of T finally got this agreement after members YES at a strike vote, but without actually having to go on strike.

Check out the research on our blog and in our newsletters. Ask yourself:

Is it okay to let an employer profit off your work at a comparatively lower cost and then balance its budget out of your pocket by passing on its expenses?

It is ridiculous that we are being ignored while tuition, inflation, and completion times increase. When other universities across the country can negotiate better contracts as a natural course of doing business, why can’t our concerns be heard? We clearly are not a priority at this university. It is our goal to change this.

We need your positive vote to give us the power to say to them: ‘Listen — we are very serious about how disrespectful this is to us. Things need to change. Right now.’

Over the past few months many of you have offered to assist the Union. If you are still able to lend a hand, please email us at gerald28@interchange.ubc.ca – Our President, Geraldina Polanco, will coordinate activities and contact you directly.

In the meantime check our website, Facebook, and twitter (@CUPE2278) for more information regarding the Strike Vote.

Yours truly,

The CUPE Local 2278 Executive


Information — Open House

Dear Members,

Over the past few weeks we have received considerable inquiries from many of you informing us of a desire to know what’s happening at the bargaining table. The Union will be hosting an Open House Information Session this Thursday at 5pm in the GSS Ballroom. This is not a decision-making meeting, but a chance for you to have your questions answered more candidly than is possible in writing.


Geraldina Polanco