KINGSTON A record number of teaching assistants (TAs) at Queens University have signed up to form a union, says Queens University Teaching Assistants for Unionization (QUTU).
It is truly encouraging to see the amount of interest and support the TAs are showing in the union membership drive, says Chris Churchill, Chair of QUTU. We are only two weeks into the campaign and we have already signed up 320 members – thats 30 TAs a day.
Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, once QUTU has signed up 40% or more TAs, the Ontario Labour Relations Board will conduct a vote of all TAs.
Higher tuition fees and increased workload, especially with the double cohort, are two of the key issues facing many TAs, says Derek Blackadder, an organizer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). From our experience, collective bargaining allows TAs to be more successful in addressing their concerns. Our York University members have successfully fought to have their tuition fees frozen since the early nineties.
QUTU asked CUPE to assist with the Queens University TAs union drive because of CUPEs success and experience in representing TAs in major universities across Ontario.
Once TAs are engaged about the advantages of unions and the benefits of local autonomy, they are eager to sign up, says Churchill. Recent successful union drives at Ryerson and Windsor have also been a factor with our Queens TAs. It shows the union is an option that allows TAs to address their concerns and issues in a more organized and successful manner.
For further information, please contact:
CUPE Organizing Representative