Research assistants gain equal pay with teaching assistants

Following years of negotiation, RAs ratify first contract with University

Research assistants successfully bargained for fair wages. 
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

After weeks of campaigning and years of fighting for fair wages, Queen’s research assistants have earned equal pay with teaching assistants.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is the union service that represents research assistants at Queen’s. On April 1, they successfully voted to enter into a collective agreement with the University.

“We can be proud of the creative mobilization campaign,” Craig Berggold PSAC Local 901 President, said in the Tuesday press release. “Hundreds of supporters sent postcards to the [University].”

Effective May 1, there’ll be a 4.5 per cent economic increase on all research assistant contracts.

Starting May 1, 2020, research assistants will earn a new hourly wage of $42.73, matching teaching assistants both at Queen’s and around the province.

This date is a decrease from the University’s original proposition of a two-year wage freeze, presented to PSAC last month.

The original proposition prompted a campus-wide campaign for fair wages. Research assistants distributed comic books outlining their struggles and engaged students and faculty in sending hundreds of postcards to Principal Daniel Woolf.

“The comic book increased interest in face-to-face conversations,” Berggold said in the press release. “Undergrads, faculty and members sent photos on twitter. The unwavering campus support made our first contract gains possible.”

Another concern research assistants had following bargaining meetings last month was a lack of language surrounding intellectual property rights.

In Tuesday’s release, Suhaylah Sequeira, vice-president of research assistants, said “Queen’s University agreed to Intellectual Property rights that ensure [assistants’] hard-work will be credited on research projects.”

In 2014, around 600 research assistants voted to unionize, but because the University allegedly contested their employment status, the ballots weren’t counted until 2017.

PSAC has spent the past 10 months in negotiations with the University, and entered into its first collective agreement on Monday.

"RAs achieved wage parity with Teaching Assistants, and a new RA Form with guidelines of what constitutes RA work,” said Marshall Timmermans, a member of the Bargaining Team in the press release.

Tags: 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.