International student issues #3 - Importance of a standardized work environment

By the International Student Sub-Committee of OrganizeUW

Image of Toronto Pearson Airport, indoors, a Canadian flag hangs above a nondescript group of travellers in the distance engaged in the hustle and bustle of air travel. Photo by H W on Unsplash

This article is the third in a series of short posts by our international student organizers.

The importance of creating a standardized working environment

The access to standardized and predictable employment is particularly important for international students.

Most of us land in a new and uncertain working environment with a lot of questions about working and living conditions. Moreover, many students are around for a very short period of time. This actually makes it more important that the work environment is standardized at universities through a collective agreement.

All workers should know what they are being employed to do, what they are going to be paid, and what protections they have before they are on campus. Workers should be secure for the short period of time they are here, and they do not have to worry about things changing or having to deal with a problem.

The current resources, e.g., offer letter, university policies, have proven to be insufficient in protecting international students against sudden policy, fees or employment changes. Access to employment should be made standard and predictable. If you are relying more on employment to cover costs, then that employment should be paying an appropriate amount and your access to that employment should be fair and clear before you accept the offer to go to the university.

The collective agreement is the solution to this stability.

Real security can only be achieved through the existence of a contract that formalizes our negotiating power, so that international student issues are not treated on a case-by-case basis. Rather, system-wide issues can be recognized and system-wide solutions can be found.

Want to find out more? We have an international student FAQ and a 2-minute guide to unionization in English and Mandarin. If you want to sign up, click here to request a union card. And if you have questions, want to talk to our international student team, or volunteer, you can email us or stop by our weekly video call (every Tue, 1:30pm EST). We would love to hear from you!

Committee to Organize uWaterloo
Committee to Organize uWaterloo
supported by CUPE

The Committee to Organize uWaterloo is a grassroots campaign to unionize the academic workers at the University of Waterloo. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's largest union.

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