Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) who work at Western are conducting a strike vote, Monday-Thursday, March 19-22.
While a strike vote does not necessarily mean a strike will take place, students should know Western is preparing for all eventualities and is committed to ensuring undergraduates finish this term on schedule, said Provost Janice Deakin.
“We value Graduate Teaching Assistants and the myriad ways they enhance undergraduate education at Western,” Deakin said. “At the same time, we will continue to honour the commitment we’ve made to undergraduate students that their exams, and Convocations if they’re eligible for graduation, will take place as planned.”
Papers and assignments will be graded, and proctored exams will take place, she said. Faculty have been asked to ensure any outstanding marking done by GTAs is completed and submitted, so that faculty and undergrads have access to student marks and records as they begin the exam period.
Deakin said the university remains hopeful that a deal can be reached. The strike vote has also necessitated the university’s putting in place provisions that will minimize potential disruption for undergraduate students, faculty and staff.
Since last fall, the university has been in negotiations with the GTAs, who are members of Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 610. Approximately 2,000 GTAs – about one-third of graduate students at Western – are in the bargaining unit.
Eleven negotiation sessions have taken place since November 2017; another is scheduled for March 27.
TAs are part-time employees at Western and are hired for a maximum of 140 hours per term – their part-time work intended to support their studies as grad students.
The current hourly wage rate of $43.61 for Western GTAs exceeds the Ontario GTA university average by $2.77 per hour, Deakin said. Only four universities, three of them in Toronto, provide higher rates to their GTAs. The offer on the table is in line with contracts recently negotiated with other employee groups at Western.
For more information, visit the university’s Contract Negotiations website.