OrganizeUW Aims to Unionize TAs RAs and Lecturers at UW (Story|The Community Edition)

OrganizeUW is profiled in the Community Edition!

A photograph of the entrance to the University of Waterloo, featuring brick buildings and a Welcome Warriors sign in the background, and provincial, national, and municipal flags in the foreground. In the bottom right, Craig Becker Photo is attributed

Hot off the press!

Rachael Macintosh in The Community Edition, a community supported digital newspaper dedicated to providing reliable local news and arts and other coverage in the Waterloo region, highlights the Organize UW drive and what is leading organizers and so many student workers and sessionals to join OrganizeUw, in the face of economic precarity or desparation being neglected by the administration. OrganizeUW volunteers MK Stintson (Recreation and Leisure Studies), SM Arslan (Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering), and Scott Sørli (Architecture) are interviewed in the article.

Read the whole article at The Breach. Here are excerpts of what MK, Arslan, and Scott had to say!

Organize UW is working with CUPE, The Canadian Union for Public Education, the largest academic union in Ontario. Without a union, TAs, RAs and sessional instructors have less protections when it comes to negotiating wages, working conditions, employment conditions, benefits, and many other issues 

MK Stinson is a PhD candidate in Recreation and Leisure Studies at UW. She is an RA in that department and a member of Organize UW.

“It’s no secret that the rising cost of living in Kitchener-Waterloo is putting many community members in untenable positions. This is also coupled with an ongoing housing crisis as well as graduate student funding packages that are not increasing alongside inflation and this means that a lot of graduate student workers are being put in very desperate or precarious financial situations and they often live below the poverty line,” Stinson said…

SM Arslan is an international course-based graduate student in the department of Mechanical and Mechatronics at the university of Waterloo and a member of OrganizeUW.

“I would just like there to be more TA positions because they’ve got the funds…and for the existing TAs the workload sometimes is too much. It’s all over the place, the workload is not consistent. Some departments have to oversee 30 students in other departments they can oversee up to 100. So I want there to be more transparency I want there to be more positions I want better benefits so [international and course-based graduate students] can live a decent life.” 

“I will say that the sessionals in the architectural department we’re pretty happy with the status quo up until the moment when we all had our salaries cut after we had started teaching one semester and it came as a surprise to us that this was legal,’’ Scott Sørli, a sessional instructor in the architecture, said.

“[The salary cut] revealed to us that if we were in a union situation that would not have happened. The other thing that has really motivated my work on the union drive is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years who got sick and then was let go because she was unable to complete her teaching that semester and was asked to repay her salary,” Sørli said. 

Click here to continue reading! And if you support the drive, please consider sharing it with your friends, classmates, and colleagues; it'd be a great way to start a conversation about unionization, no? 😉

Lastly, a big thank you from all of the volunteers/organizers at OUW to MK, Arslan, and Scott for all your hard work shedding light on the real-life experiences of graduate students and sessional instructors at UW

Wait, what is OrganizeUW?

OrganizeUW is a grassroots campaign to improve working conditions at UW for/by TAs, RAs, and Sessional Instructors. Here's how you can learn more!

  • check out our handy infographic on the unionization process (also available in Mandarin)
  • head to the FAQs to learn about eligibility, CUPE, dues, and much more, or to our series of video webinars on topics such as how unions help with health & safety, anti-racism, or environmental action
  • browse our blog for posts about mental health, international student issues, organizer interviews, a faculty Q&A, and more
  • drop in at OUW's weekly in-person social event, aka “Stammtisch”. Come hang out and meet new people from across UW!
  • get in touch via email or DM to learn more, sign up to volunteer, share your story/ask for advice about a workplace issue, or discuss whatever else is on your mind!
  • follow @OrganizeUW on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to stay up to date on the latest events, milestones, and union info

And last but not least - don't forget to sign your union card! Click here to sign as a TA/RA and/or Sessional Instructor.

Every small action adds up - by working together, you and your coworkers can make things better for academic workers at UWaterloo.

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.