TA union drive fails

The outcome of the Queen’s TA vote for unionization will never be known because the ballots are being destroyed.

Although a vote was held on Feb. 5, the Board ruled against the validity of the vote on Mar. 31 because the necessary 40 per cent of the decided bargaining unit had not signed union cards.

The decision was made after the Board compared lists of TAs provided by the administration, by the union organizers and by the signed cards.

Chris Churchill, the chair of the Queen’s TA’s for Unionization (QUTU), said he felt disappointed that the votes were not counted.

“The University won ... [and] every single person’s vote was destroyed,” he said. He added that even though the University had “won,” the victory was not democratic.

Approximately 900 out of an estimated 1,300 TAs voted. The university challenged a number of voters’ statuses. Voters were challenged at voting booths if they were not on the list of people the University considered working TAs.

Churchill said QUTU will not appeal the decision.

“The criteria for appeal is so high ... it’s considered near impossible,” he said.

Emily van der Meulen, a member of QUTU, said she thought the unionization drive helped bring the TAs together.

“I think it has created a lot more support for a union because students see the kind of power the administration has,” she said. “I am not happy with an administration that discounts democratic elections through challenges.”

After the decision was announced, Principal Bill Leggett said the administration accepted the Labour Board’s decision.

“The graduate students of Queen’s play a very important role in our educational mission,” he said. “We now look forward to putting in place new initiatives developed in consultation with our graduate students prior to the unionization drive, and stalled by the application to unionize, that are designed to ensure that the working conditions enjoyed, and the remuneration received are fair and competitive.”

These initiatives are the proposed $9 TA wage increase that will come into effect in September.

The increase has been subject to much debate as some TAs have argued the increase is actually a shift in funds rather then a real increase. The administration has argued this is not the case and the University’s TAs will see an actual increase.

—With files from the Queen’s News Centre

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