With 100% of the votes in support, 325 teaching assistants (TAs) at Saint Mary’s University (SMU) have now joined CUPE 3912.

“The unanimous voting result is a testament to the passion of our unified community of TAs,” said Jonathan Mansvelt, a member of the SMU TA Organizing Committee. “We are only just getting started and I am excited to continue through collaborating with all members to construct a collective agreement.”

“I’m very proud of what we have accomplished to date,” said Mansvelt. “It’s amazing that what started as an ambitious chat between three TAs last November following the Dalhousie strike sparked a movement leading to union certification in less than a year.”

SMU TA votes for joining CUPE 3912 were cast in April 2023; however, certification was delayed while the employer attempted to exclude casuals and teaching assistants that were not students. When the SMU TA ballots were counted, 100% of them supported joining CUPE 3912.

“Once again, the sincere desires, thoughtful initiatives, energetic organizing efforts, and responsible teamwork among students and others, are improving our community through democratic ways,” said CUPE 3912 president Cameron Ells. “This Labour Day, the theme is ‘Lifting Everyone Up’ and in the past year, our members, both new and old, have continued to lift each other up and make things better.”

CUPE 3912’s next goal is to negotiate a first collective agreement between the SMU TA members and the employer that will improve wages, working conditions, and job security. In addition to the SMU TAs, last spring, 75 Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Independent Course Appointees from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) also voted 100% in favour of joining CUPE 3912.

About CUPE 3912

CUPE 3912 is Nova Scotia’s largest university union, proudly representing more than 5,000 current and recent academic service providers through six bargaining units at Saint Mary’s University (SMU), Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), Dalhousie University, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD). Our members are part-time instructors, language instructors, teaching assistants, markers, demonstrators, research assistants, and independent course appointees. The mix of members differs between different university employers.