During a ratification vote that ended February 16, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3902 Unit 1 approved a new collective agreement reached with the university on February 9. CUPE 3902 Unit 1 represents teaching assistants, student and postdoctoral course instructors, and exam invigilators.
The new collective agreement will be in place until December 31, 2020 and will include all the terms of the previous collective agreement, which expired on December 31, 2017.
The Varsity has obtained a copy of the full memorandum of agreement, which was provided to CUPE 3902 members in advance of the ratification vote.
Wage increases, funding, and workload
According to the agreement, course instructors’ annual wages, including vacation pay, will increase seven per cent from $14,770.24 to $15,800 in 2018; teaching assistants’ pay will increase by 1.8 per cent to $44.44 per hour; invigilators will see a 7.3 per cent increase from $38.22 per hour to $41; Chief Presiding Officers’ wages will grow 7.8 percent to $31 per hour; Assistant Invigilators’ wages will increase two percent to $29.34 per hour; and Peer Assistants will see a 1.8 per cent increase to $38.32 an hour. All wages will increase by two per cent in both 2019 and 2020.
The newly established Employee Financial Assistance Fund (EFAF) will be used to finance the already existing Childcare Financial Assistance Fund, Research Assistance Defence Fund, International Health Plan Assistance Fund, U of T Family Plan Assistance Fund. This fund will be composed of $3.2 million per year plus a one-time transition payment of $700,000.
The Graduate Student Bursary Fund (GSBF) and Tuition Assistance Fund will be eliminated. Money from the EFAF will be used to create a successor to the GSBF. Unit members who are graduate students receiving funding will be given a letter from their department to apply for funding administered by the union; funding will constitute $17,500 in 2018–2019, increasing by $500 each year. EFAF money will also be used to create a successor to the Tuition Assistance Fund, which will reduce out-of-pocket tuition costs by $2,000–3,000.
“We expect the gains in this agreement will make a big difference in the lives of our members and we think the ratification vote reflects this,” CUPE 3902 Unit 1 spokesperson Aleks Ivovic wrote in an email to The Varsity. “We hope the University will engage with the issue of graduate student funding seriously in the coming years.
“The next review of graduate funding is to begin in the 2018-2019 academic year and we hope the University will meet the level of graduate funding that our members and all graduate students deserve.”
Health care and mental health coverage
Health care coverage will continue in a similar manner as the previous collective agreement, with some additions. There is an increase to $15,000 maximum in drug coverage per person per year, as well as a $15,000 maximum combined health plan plan coverage. Maximum vision coverage is increased from $175 to $225 per year. Maximum speech pathology is covered at $1,300 per year and there is an increased maximum of $1,350 for dental coverage.
Employees are entitled to up to four months of paid leave for mental health purposes, up from two months. Also part of the agreement is an increase from $1,000 to $2,500 per person per year to access the services of a psychologist, social worker, or psychotherapist.
Notably, the collective agreement states that employees are entitled to one month of paid Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave. This is the first collective agreement signed by U of T to provide this. Additionally, a mechanism has been added to report workplace harassment anonymously.
“We made meaningful gains in all of our major priority areas. Many of these are unprecedented,” wrote Ivovic.
The Varsity has reached out to the university for comment.
Read the full memorandum of agreement below.
— With files from Ilya Bañares