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Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Labour Union FAQs

Answers to questions about how your union works.

What is the Graduate Labour Union?

We are you! The GLU is a trade union that represents all academically employed graduate students. That includes research assistants, teaching assistants, and folks with GANT contracts. It’s executive (Chair, Vice Chairs )operate on behalf of the membership. The Chair/AVP Labour of GLU is elected under the GSA Elections. Vice chairs, while currently appointed, will be moving to become elected positions in the near future. Both “manage” and run the union.

What is an academically employed graduate student (AEGS)?

An AEGS is any student that has had a GAT, GAR, or GANT contract. You remain an AEGS (and a member of the GLU) for 12 months after the end of your contract, so even if you are no longer TA’ing, you will still probably be a member of the Union.

What does the Graduate Labour Union do?

We handle workplace grievances (such as issues around workload or pay, workplace safety and harassment, etc), provide training, negotiate on your behalf during collective bargaining, and more! If you have more questions about the GLU and our work, feel free to reach out via email, ask on social media, or bother us in person if you see any of the executive on campus!

What are stewards?

Stewards are the “first line of defense” in departments. They relay important department information back to the rest of the committee, help their colleagues advocate for themselves to their employer, and are a supportive shoulder to students facing workplace issues.

What is collective bargaining? Why is it important?

Collective bargaining is the process of which a collective agreement is negotiated. A collective agreement is a legally binding document that outlines employee responsibilities and rights. Everything from holidays, to workload limits, to pay and compensation is outlined in the CA. Collective bargaining is important because it is the primary avenue to get increases in pay for your work, better workplace protections, and strengthen your rights as workers. Bargaining is between two negotiating teams, one for the employer, and one for the union. These teams are “at the bargaining table”.

We bargain collectively (rather than each individual negotiating their own contract) because there is power in numbers and because having a collective contract for all members promotes equity across the workforce.

For more information on bargaining, visit our Bargaining FAQ page.

Collective Agreement FAQs

Answers to questions about your rights as Graduate Assistant.

Am I entitled to sick days?

See article 7.1

If you are unable to work due to illness or injury, you should first notify your employment supervisor or your Department Head with the expected duration of your leave from work.

If you are unable to come to campus due to exhibiting symptoms of illness but are able to work from home, you could be expected to alter your duties to complete them from home instead of in-person.

If you are unable to work at all, then the following remuneration for sick days applies: For a period of up to ten (10) business days, Graduate Assistants will be granted medical leave at 100% of remuneration (for GARs, this is calculated as the daily average of earnings over the preceding ten (10) business days).After ten days of illness or injury, a Graduate Assistant will receive 70% remuneration until the end of the disability or the end of the term (whichever is earlier).

Note that there is no item in the Collective Agreement that indicates a Graduate Assistant is responsible for finding their own replacement or that they should complete any work missed during a sick leave at a later date.

How many hours can I work as a Graduate Assistant (Research)?

See Article 5.2(b)
Graduate Assistant (Research) contracts shall not exceed 450 hours. Assistantship contracts may be combined, however, the onus is on the graduate student to verify the terms and conditions of other funding sources to ensure compliance.

Why do I pay a 0.5% levy on Graduate Assistantships?

See Article 2.3
The amount of 0.5% will be deducted the from the scholarships and salaries payable to all Graduate Assistants covered by the Collective Agreement. The levy is paid to the Graduate Labour Union so that we can uphold the Collective Agreement and create new labour initiatives.

What do I do if I think there has a been a violation or improper application of my terms of employment?

See Article 13
Most disagreements can be resolved informally through a discussion with your employment supervisor or department head, but otherwise you can follow the formal steps outlined in Article 13: Grievance Procedure.
It is highly advised that you contact the Graduate Labour Union to advise and support you through this process. All conversations between you and a representative or steward will be confidential and the GLU will only escalate a grievance with your approval.

To stay within the timelines of our Collective Agreement, you must discuss your concerns with your employment supervisor within 7 business days of becoming aware of the incident.

What if I work more hours than in my contract?

See Article 13
You should track your hours throughout your contract to ensure that you are within the allotted hours on your Assignment of Duties form. As soon as you notice that you are working more hours than included in your contract, you should seek clarification and resolution with the Course Instructor or Researcher.

If you work more hours in your contract, you are not necessarily guaranteed to receive compensation. It is crucial that you bring awareness to this issue before it happens.
The Graduate Labour Union may act as an advocate for you in these matters, don’t hesitate to reach out for support!

What can I do if I feel I am unable to perform the tasks assigned to me in my Graduate Assistantship?

See Article 5.2. (g)
It is important to discuss the assigned duties at the beginning of your contract when completing the Assignment of Duties form. This is the best time to raise your concerns about the duties assigned to you. Keep in mind, you are entitled to receive any training necessary for you to complete your duties.

Once you have signed your contract, it cannot be arbitrarily cancelled because of a disagreement between yourself and your supervisor to how the Assignment of Duties form should be completed.

If the tasks have changed, or your ability to perform them have changed, contact the Graduate Labour Union to advise you or follow the process outlined in Article 13.