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.
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.