What is UGSW?
The UNB Union of Graduate Student Workers (UGSW) is composed solely of those that are employed as Graduate Student Teaching Assistants and/or Research Assistants that are enrolled as a graduate student of the University of New Brunswick and working at the Fredericton or Saint John campuses.
Although the UGSW is a Local of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), GTAs and RAs—and only GTAs and RAs—establish the priorities and policies of the Local.
So Why we need the Union ?
First and foremost, we are able to negotiate a Collective Agreement that reflects the nature of our work, stipulating terms and conditions that must be respected by our employer, the University of New Brunswick. Arbitrary decisions and actions by an employer will not be permitted with respect to the contents of the contract. We will have a collective voice and be able to make democratic decisions about our workplace. Unionized graduate students at other universities throughout North America have made great strides through negotiations, including benefits such as child care and eye care, assistance funds for international students and for professional development, intellectual property, and academic freedom rights, to name only a few.
All graduate student TAs and RAs at UNB receive the rights and benefits that will be established in our Collective Agreement. All UGSW members have the right to assistance from the Union when required. Membership in the Union gives the right to fully participate in local elections and general meetings. The Union negotiates and acts on behalf of all members. The more graduate student TAs and RAs who participate, the more accurately our decisions will reflect our collective concerns.
Some Important Points
- Representation: Graduate student TAs and RAs are spread out all over the two UNB campuses (Fredericton and Saint John) where they are treated very differently from faculty to faculty. This body of UNB workers now has a collective voice to express concerns about discrimination, workplace health and safety issues, wage and pay issues, and harassment. If problems arise, individuals do not have to take it upon themselves to correct the situation. The Union will be receptive to the complaints of graduate student workers, and will protect the right of the individual to not suffer personal ramifications while trying to correct their situation.
- Job Security: Collective bargaining of a contract can ensure that changes to administrative procedure and pressure to reduce budgets will not affect the numbers of RAs and TAs hired within departments. We can bargain with the university to commit to maintaining RA and TA requirement calculators so that, even if we obtain a substantial pay raise, no one loses their position as a result.
- Working Hours: Working under a Collective Agreement can protect us from having to work more hours than we get paid for and enable us to get paid for all of the work we do. One of the most common complaints of both RAs and TAs at UNB is that our pay is based on far fewer hours than are necessary to do our jobs adequately.
- Wages: Graduate student workers at UNB are amongst the lowest paid RAs and TAs in the country, with an average wage of $18-23.00/hr. At other unionized universities, where job descriptions are similar for RAs and TAs, much higher compensation is provided. Carleton University graduate TAs earn $30.46/hr, York University provides $38.86/hr, and the University of Regina pays $36.92/hr.
- Professionalism: As Research Assistants and Teaching Assistants, we work as professional educators. Many professions, including professors and support staff at UNB, bargain collectively. Union certification increases the credibility of, and respect for, RAs and TAs. It can also serve to protect us from losses that may indirectly result from being the most vulnerable group; if the administration decides to cut costs, it is easiest to make cuts in a non-unionized sector.
GSA and UGSW
All UNB graduate students are members of the UNB Graduate Student Association and they do their best to represent our student voices on university committees. However, the GSA does not have the legal ability or resources to negotiate on the behalf of student workers for better working conditions, equitable treatment, and fair pay. A labour union does both legally and from the resources perspective.
Website, Contact, and Information
To visit UGSW website click here.
Tel: (506) 451-6882.
Off-Campus, non-UNB, postal address is:
Box 612 Stn A
Fredericton NB E3B 5A6
Yesterday, the final report of the President’s Taskforce and its recommendations were presented at the Senate meeting. The GSA took part in the president’s task force and presented the recommendations based on the survey of Graduate Student Funding. The GSA is appreciative that the report has been submitted for implementation and that the recommendations are a great start to fixing the funding situation for Graduate students at UNB….
February 4th, 2019 marked the kick off start to our Provincial Lobby week. Graduate Student Association is working closely with Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) to present the needs of NB students to members of Legislative Assembly in order to spark action. For more information, please check out the the following document: CFS-NB-LobbyDoc-2019 (1)
To all Full-time Graduate Students, Please Note: Part-time students are not eligible for coverage and need to take no further action. If you started in the Fall term, 2018, you need take no further action. This email is for Full-time students starting in January of 2019. ..