Academic assistants ratify collective agreement

AA’s and Queen’s administration reach agreement despite contentious negotiations

The USW 2010 and 2010-01 during negotiations in November.

The academic assistant bargaining unit, led by their United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2010-01 representatives, reached a tentative collective agreement with Queen’s Administration on Feb. 2. 

The agreement was ratified at a meeting between the two parties on Feb. 15.

Although the bargaining unit saw pushback in the negotiations on wage increases and entitlements, the team was able to achieve several amendments to their previous contract, including whistleblower protection and increased transparency of AA seniority and probation.

One of the few entirely new articles in the contract is article 27, which seeks to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by the University. 

The ratified agreement is the result of a lengthy nine months of negotiations between the two parties beginning back in June 2016.  

In an email to The Journal, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Resources) Dan Bradshaw expressed the administration’s position on the finalized deal.

“The University was committed to the collective bargaining process and is pleased that a renewal agreement was reached with the assistance of a government appointed conciliator, which was subsequently ratified by both parties,” Bradshaw wrote.

USW 2010-01 Unit Chair, Jane Russell Corbett, wrote in a post on the USW website about the difficulty that the bargaining unit faced throughout negotiations. 

“Queen’s is no longer the employer we used to know and collaborate with,” Corbett wrote in her statement.

 “It was clear from the first day of negotiations that enhanced language/entitlements and increased wages were going to be difficult to defend, let alone improve upon. It was difficult to convince the Employer that your service, hard work, and loyalty should be recognized.” 

However, despite the challenges faced by the bargaining committee, and the amendments that they weren’t able to secure in the agreement, Corbett and the team unanimously recommended the results.

“This is the ‘best’ possible deal that could be reached — a deal to keep each of you, and by extension your families, off the picket lines,” Corbett wrote.

USW 2010-01 affirmed their stance on the hostility of negotiations despite the University’s claim of being “pleased” with the renewal agreement.

“In negotiations, your Bargaining Committee met with negativity — not only in terms of its effort to achieve wage equity with TAs — but also in terms of a basic respect for our role within the University. Despite the challenges and obstacles, this tentative agreement does indeed make gains in some areas for Academic Assistants,” Corbett wrote. 

Bradshaw responded to the bargaining unit’s claim of negativity, stating that, “the University values the contributions of its many employees, including Academic Assistants, and trusts that its relationship with Academic Assistants will remain positive moving forward.”

In Corbett’s statement, she expressed concerns about relations between USW 2010-01 and Queen’s administration going forward.

“Labour relations with Queen’s over the next while will determine the tone for the foreseeable future.”

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