CUPE 3902 meeting and Fellows’ Gaudy

2015-03-21

in Economics, Photography, Politics, Toronto

Yesterday afternoon, CUPE 3902 met to decide whether to send the latest offer from the university to the full union for ratification. The deal includes the same reworked funding and tuition numbers from the union’s last proposal, but without the structural changes to the funding package that many saw as the realistic best-case outcome for the strike.

I had to leave the meeting an hour before the end to get to the Massey College Fellows’ Gaudy, the last high table of the year. We learned later in the evening that those present at the meeting had voted narrowly in favour of sending the deal to a ratification vote.

The vote is happening today and tomorrow, and could conceivably result in us going back to work Monday. If so, I will be in even more trouble than before. My cold has become substantially worse, and a return to work will mean a sudden avalanche of grading – all six days before the brief update is meant to be finished.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan March 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm
. March 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Dear Friends,

As former Executives of the GSU, we believe that the tentative agreement
between CUPE 3902 and UofT is a disaster for current and future graduate
students. The gains made in this agreement are marginal at best, while the
structural losses will harm TAs for years to come – locking hard working
researchers into poverty indefinitely by putting pressure on Departments to
keep stipends low. This is true for every Department – from those in the
humanities to those in engineering.

If you are a TA and haven’t voted, *we strongly urge you to vote No at one
of the following locations between 10am and 4pm tomorrow**(Sunday, March
22nd):*

– UTM area: Glen Erin Inn & Spa (1695 The Collegeway)
– UTSC area: Holiday Inn Express (50 Estate Drive), Suite 245, first
floor
– Downtown:
– Union office, 180 Bloor Street West, 8th floor
– Victoria University Goldring Students Centre West Foyer, 150
Charles St. West
– St. Michael’s College – Carr Hall Lobby, 100 St. Joseph Street

If you have voted or are not a TA, please urge your friends to vote No, so
that this agreement is not able to lock graduate students into poverty
indefinitely.

*Former Members of the UTGSU Executive Committee:*

Brad Evoy (OISE)

*External Commissioner, 2013-2014.Internal Commissioner, 2012-2013.*

Veronica Carr (OISE)
*External Commissioner, 2013.*

Jaby Matthew (Political Science)
*Academics and Funding Commissioner – Div 1/2, 2013 – 2014.*
*Executive-at-Large, 2012-2013.*

Jason Dumelie (Biochemistry)

*Academics and Funding Commissioner – Div 3/4 ,
2012-2013.Executive-at-Large, 2011-2012.*

Ashleigh Ingle (Physics, OISE)
*Civics & Environment Commissioner, 2012-2013.*

Michelle St-Amour (Linguistics)

*Civics & Environment Commissioner, 2010-2012.Academics & Funding
Commissioner, 2009-2010.Executive-at-Large, 2008-2009.*

Leah Bender (Near and Middle East Civilizations)
*UofT GSU, External Commissioner, 2014.*

*John Paul Catungal (Geography)**Executive-at-Large, 2008-2009.*

Walter Callaghan (Anthropology)
*Academics and Funding Commissioner – Div 1/2, 2014.*

Bahram Farzady (OISE)
*Academics and Funding Commissioner – Div 1/2, 2012-2013.*

Akshita Kapila Vincent (IMS)
*Academics and Funding Commissioner – Div 3/4, 2013-2014.*

Aman Gebru (Law)
*Finance and University Governance Commissioner, 2013-2014.*

Other Statements:

– From Undergraduate Leaders .
– From Graduate Education Council Student Members
.

. March 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm

To throw out an idea, so that people have a sense of the types of issues we could discuss, *if* the Tentative Agreement (TA) passes ratification tonight, the department will almost have to change how it deals with OGS recipients. First, all OGS holders this year would be in a horrible position, as they actually receive *less* money (even with the department’s top-up) than if they had declined the OGS and stayed on the standard funding package (which gets bumped up to 17.5K as a result of the TA, retroactively). Second, what about next year? As a result of the TA, and unless the department changes its top-up for OGS recipients, it makes financial sense to actually decline the OGS simply because you’d get *less* money for taking one. This is almost the very definition of a perverse incentive.

We could rely on the department to see this issue and taking action on their own initiative. Or we could highlight it and make a recommendation of our own, as a group. I’m in favour of the latter.

To conclude this very long email, I’m going to throw out my personal suggestion for one concrete idea to address a fundamental issue with the department’s current funding structure, specifically, the cutback of fellowship money as soon as anyone receives a large external scholarship (OGS, SSHRC, CGS, Trudeau, Vanier, etc.); this is naturally, something up for debate and discussion tomorrow afternoon at our meeting.

Right now, anyone “winning” a $15000 scholarship (OGS) receives two things in reality: the “prestige” of winning a scholarship… and $500 extra dollars in take-home money (bumped up to $1000-1500 usually by the end of term). This is because not only does the department cutback the fellowship portion of your original $15K guarantee, but *also* the tuition part (a little different for international students with OGS, but their take home is ultimately the same from my understanding). Why not call on the department to *guarantee* the tuition part of your fellowship for all external scholarships up to 20K (thereby including both OGS and SSHRC Fellowship)? In other words, sure, the department can cut back the $6000 fellowship that is part of the 15K guarantee if anyone wins one of these scholarships, but, at the very least, *do not* make us pay for tuition on our own (guarantee that tuition will continue to be paid by the department via fellowship money). Instead of getting a nominal amount for winning these scholarships (eg. if the TA mentioned above passes, winning a SSHRC Fellowship would get you an additional $2.5K going forward instead of 5K), *guaranteeing* fellowship funding for tuition would actually lead to significant financial gains for winners of these awards (eg. another $8500 since you wouldn’t have to pay tuition yourself). Prestige and honour are all fine and good, but those don’t pay the bills. And since we are the ones competing for and ultimately, winning these awards (on our merits), thereby generating prestige for the department and the university, shouldn’t *we* see some real (financial) gains from this?

My thoughts. Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow afternoon.

Cheers,

Wayne Zhu

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