Letter to the Editor: May 29

Dear Editors,

PSAC 901, the labour union representing Graduate Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, Research Assistants, and Postdoctoral Scholars at Queen’s University, regrets to announce the suspension of its Emergency Food Support Fund due to the depletion of available funds. The response to over 457 applications resulted in an expenditure of $31,325 on grocery gift cards in 15 weeks, highlighting the acute needs faced by graduate workers in the Kingston community.

While it is traditionally the employer’s responsibility to ensure the livelihood of its employees by paying a living wage, PSAC 901 recognized the urgent need of its members and launched the Emergency Food Support Fund as a GoFundMe campaign in January 2022 to assist its members struggling to survive and put food on the table. The majority of the funds required to sustain the program have since been covered by the union’s own funding. More than $20,000 was allocated by PSAC 901’s Executive and Stewards’ Councils to sustain the fund through until last week, in addition to generous contributions from members of the Queens’ University Faculty Association (QUFA), and CUPE 1302 local. This is a testament to the solidarity and strength of our unionized members and community, who demonstrated their unwavering support for one another in times of need. It is worth noting that while Queen’s University promoted the PSAC 901 emergency food fund to its graduate student workers, Queen’s University never contributed financially to the fund.

PSAC 901 is immensely grateful to the generous individuals and organizations within our community who supported the fund with their donations. Their compassion and commitment to our members’ well-being are truly commendable. We extend our heartfelt thanks for their support.

Despite the suspension of the Emergency Food Support Fund, PSAC 901 remains committed to addressing the pressing needs of our members. We will continue our efforts to restore the fund and explore alternative avenues to ensure the provision of essential support to our graduate workers. We urge Queen’s University to take immediate and meaningful action to address the growing insecurity PSAC 901 members face, who as graduate student workers provide invaluable research and labour to the university and broader Kingston community.

All employees, including graduate workers, should have access to fair wages and adequate benefits that encompass their basic needs. PSAC 901 will tirelessly advocate for improved working
conditions, comprehensive employee support, and fair treatment for all graduate workers at Queen’s University.


Justyna Szewczyk El-Jassem, PSAC 901 President

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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