MUN graduate assistants ratify first collective agreement

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Members of the Teaching Assistants' Union of Memorial University of Newfoundland (TAUMUN) have ratified the first collective agreement for graduate assistants at Memorial.
According to a news release, TAUMUN is the official bargaining agent for Memorial University's more than 500 graduate assistants. These workers are masters and PhD students employed by the university on a part-time, semester to semester basis to carry out work that ranges from supervising and marking exams, to assisting in labs, to doing research and giving tutorials.
"We are very proud of the agreement that TAUMUN has achieved," says Jeannie Baldwin, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, "This is a well-deserved and long-fought victory for graduate student workers."
The first agreement provides for wage increases of eight per cent retroactive to Sept. 1, 2009; four per cent on Sept. 1, 2010; and an additional four per cent in each of the subsequent two years, which will bring the hourly rate to $21.15 per hour by the fall of 2012.
The agreement guarantees academic freedom and intellectual property rights to graduate student workers, and contains a commitment by the university that job opportunities offered to graduate students as part of the recruitment process will normally be renewed for the duration of the student's academic program.
The union also achieved a commitment that non-union undergraduate teaching and research assistants will not be used to undermine the integrity of the bargaining unit.
The contract includes wide-ranging prohibitions against discrimination that exceed the provisions of most human rights legislation, including protection from discrimination based on gender identity and political opinion and activity. The local also achieved what it considers excellent Health and Safety language, including a commitment to provide a modified work program with no loss of pay or benefits to pregnant and nursing mothers who work in environments that could pose health risks to their fetus or nursing child.
Before the agreement can come into effect, it will go before Memorial University's upcoming meeting of the Board of Regents.

Organizations: TAUMUN, Union of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Public Service Alliance of Canada

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