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Results of GSA Council Vote on Unionization

January 27, 2020

On January 23rd, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Council launched a 24-hour e-vote on the following resolution:

  • Be it resolved that the GSA Council supports the formation of a union of graduate TAs, RAs, and sessional instructors at the University of Waterloo and recommends that the GSA Board of Directors review and organize the unionization.

Members of the GSA Council holding voting rights were eligible to participate. The vote surpassed quorum and included representation from all faculties.

The results of the vote are as follows:

  • In favor of the motion (supportive of unionization): 78%
  • Opposed to the motion (not supportive of unionization): 13%
  • Abstain: 9%

It is important to understand that the vote does not automatically unionize graduate students. Organizing a labour union is a multi-stage process detailed under Ontario’s Labour Relations Act, which ultimately requires a formal vote wherein all members of a proposed bargaining unit would have the final say in supporting or opposing unionization.

The result of the vote means that the GSA Council now officially supports unionization, and that the GSA Board of Directors will review the topic in more detail.

The GSA Council is the body responsible for determining the official positions of the GSA as they relate to academic and political representation of University of Waterloo Graduate Students. The GSA Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the corporate interests of the GSA, per Ontario’s Corporations Act. More information on GSA governance is available on our website.

The GSA Council has discussed several issues facing UW graduate students, including (but not limited to):

  • Timeliness of Pay;
  • Discrepancies around compensation paid to students working as sessionals;
  • Poor categorization of online instructors/sessional instructors;
  • Lack of training (inclusive of paid training);
  • Overwork; and,
  • Total compensation for graduate students (specifically graduate TAs) is not aligned with many universities in Ontario and regional cost of living requirements.

Over the weeks and months ahead, all members of the graduate student community will be offered an opportunity to have their voice heard on whether the GSA should further pursue seeking union representation at the University of Waterloo.

Additional information will be distributed over social and campus media soon. Until then, graduate students are encouraged to keep up to date with GSA news via our social media channels:

  • Instagram: @gsa.uwaterloo
  • Facebook: @gsauw
  • Twitter: @GSA_UWaterloo

If you have questions, please feel free to contact the GSA office.

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Territorial Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that we work on the traditional territory of ‎ the Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes ten kilometers on each side of the Grand River. We acknowledge that we work on these territories as beneficiaries of settler colonialism. We also acknowledge that members of our UWaterloo community live on Indigenous territories around the world.

This statement is only a small step in the process of reconciliation. Decolonization requires systemic change. The GSA-UW is committed to this effort.

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