Brock TAs lowest paid in Ontario

Posted on bulletin boards across Brock University’s campus are the results of a recent study indicating that the university’s teaching assistants and seminar leaders are the most underpaid in Ontario.
Brock University currently pays teaching assistants and seminar leaders $1,654 for approximately 120 hours per term, $1,345 less then the second-lowest paying, Queen’s University.
Those at York are making $4,989.50 for the 135 hours they work per term, and Mike Boland, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 4207, says that with some mitigating circumstances, the work is the same and therefore the pay should reflect those similarities.
The union, which was certified in the summer of 1998, represents TAs, seminar leaders and part-time instructors. They will be returning to the negotiation table when their contract expires on June 30. One of the contentious points to be discussed will be a pay increase, as Brock TAs haven’t had a raise since 1999. Boland pointed out they had gone ten years before that without a pay increase.
What is more troublesome than the numbers researched and published by CUPE is that seminar leaders, who are undergraduate students, are doing the same amount of work for even lower pay than hired teaching assistants, specifically grading.
On the whole, TAs and seminar leaders in a one-term course have a workload that is based “on a ratio of three hours of non-classroom time to each hour of classroom time.
“The non-classroom work is made up of preparation of seminar material, student consultation and marking or grading and other course administration,” states the collective agreement between the university and the union. Therefore, teaching assistants are paid an additional quarter seminar leader stipend for each seminar in recognition of the requirement of an honours degree (the only distinction between a seminar leader and TA).
Darren Harper, of Brock human resources, was not sure why Brock TAs were so underpaid in comparison to other schools.
He said he hadn’t done research as to what was happening around the issue across Ontario. He said he had seen the posters but hadn’t yet read them.
Boland says the information sheet posted across campus wasn’t meant to act as a threat in preparation for negotiations later this spring, but rather an information tool. “It’s the job of the local to inform its members of what is going on,” he said.
He wants to make sure students don’t feel a TA-ship makes them ‘special,’ but rather that they fit the requirements and therefore deserve to get more from it.
Boland says that if Brock TAs and seminar leaders were to go on strike, they would earn $800 per month as a strike wage — more than they earn working.
Speculation about a strike is very much premature, he says, as that could only be decided through a vote by the union’s members. However, Boland feels that the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA) would be sympathetic to the TAs’ union of they did decide to strike.
“From all the discussions I’ve had with BUFA … there is a high degree of sympathy,” he said. “The issue is whether or not they recruit others to do our work.”
Harper refused to predict what would happen come June and whether wage increases would be a sticking point. “It’s just way too early to answer that.”
He said he hadn’t done research as to what was happening around the issue across Ontario. He said he had seen the posters but hadn’t yet read them.
Boland says the information sheet posted across campus wasn’t meant to act as a threat in preparation for negotiations later this spring, but rather as an information tool. “It’s the job of the local to inform its members of what is going on,” he said.
He wants to make sure students don’t feel a TA-ship makes them ‘special,’ but rather that they fit the requirements and therefore deserve to get more from it.
Boland says that if Brock TAs and seminar leaders were to go on strike, they would earn $800 per month as strike pay — more than they earn working.
Speculation about a strike is very much premature, he says, as that could only be decided through a vote by the union’s members. However, Boland feels that the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA) would be sympathetic to the TAs’ union of they did decide to strike.
“From all the discussions I’ve had with BUFA … there is a high degree of sympathy,” he said. “The issue is whether or not they recruit others to do our work.”
Harper refused to predict what would happen come June and whether wage increases would be a sticking point. “It’s just way too early to answer that.”

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