“A key part of protecting the integrity of research and scientific inquiry at Canadian universities is helping secure more appropriate employment conditions for postdoctoral scholars.” Canadian Association of University Teachers
After the PDF union campaign at the University of Toronto in 2012, the Ontario Labour Board ruled that Postdoctoral Fellows are in fact employees of the university and therefore have the right to unionize. Now the PSAC is joining other universities across Canada by organizing a union for Postdoctoral Fellows at Western.
These are some of the accomplishments the PDA union has gained after unionizing:
- Minimum wage guarantee & annual wage increases
- Hours of work protections & compensation for hours worked overtime
- Employer-funded health benefits
- Benefits such as pregnancy, parental, bereavement, religious observance, & sick leave
- Professional assistance & representation when addressing workplace issues
- Workplace protections against discrimination & harassment
- Reimbursements for work-related travel, certifications, & other expenses
- Employer-guaranteed duty to accommodate
Postdoctoral Fellows should not be invisible! Sign a card and join the campaign!
“Without a certified organization, the University would not take the needs of Postdocs seriously.” CAPS
Do you want to bargain for:
- Parental Leave?
- Employer Funded Benefits?
- Improved Intellectual Property Rights?
- More Workplace Protections?
Here’s why the Postdoctoral Scholars unionized at Dalhousie University: “There is a reason why higher education is the most unionized sector in Canada - academic workers understand the importance and necessity of collective bargaining and the security that unionization brings. Right across the country, full- and part-time faculty, teaching assistants, research assistants, have long-since unionized. And an increasing number of postdoctoral researchers are now choosing to do the same. Why? Because even a cursory examination makes clear that unionization protects and benefits academic workers. It's time.”
Collectively we are stronger and with Public Service Alliance of Canada’s experience with postdoctoral unions at other universities, an experienced team stands by our side to help us bargain for what we want.
These universities are also unionized:
- Dalhousie University (visit their “why unionize” web page, see why your colleagues are unionizing!)
- École Polytechnique
- University of Toronto (CUPE 3902) (visit their FAQ web page about unionizing!)
- Memorial University (LUMUN - PSAC)
- Queen’s University (PSAC 901)
- Université de Montreal
- Université de Québec à Montréal
- Université de Sherbrooke
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology (PSAC 555)
- Université Laval
- McMaster University (CUPE 3906)
- Carleton University (CUPA) (visit their FAQ web page about unionizing!)
What is the process?
(from CUPA at Carleton University)
Step 1: Get Union Cards Signed
The first step is to sign a Union Card. In order to get to step 2, the Union must have at least 40% of those eligible to join sign a card. In practice, you want more than that in order to create a safety buffer. These cards are kept by the union at this stage, and the employer will not know that you have signed a card unless you tell them.
Step 2: Labour Board Vote
Once you have the required number of signed cards (or the number you determine above it), you apply for certification to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. At this point, the Union Cards are given to the Labour Board. However, the employer never sees the cards or is aware who signed them. The Labour Board will, at this stage, obtain a list of employees from the employer in order to verify that the union has valid cards. If the Board is satisfied the Union has the required number of cards, it will conduct a vote. If 50% plus 1 of those who vote, vote yes, then you are unionized.
Step 3: Bargain a Collective Agreement
Now that you are unionized, your first goal is to bargain a Collective Agreement (the document the union and the employer bargain and sign). A team, drawn from the members of the workplace (but with support of the Union), will bargain with the employer about all terms of employment. Once an Agreement is reached, members will vote about whether or not to accept it.
For more research about postdocs unionizing, read these articles:
Postdocs Unionize at Two Ontario Universities – About the postdoc drive at Western and McMaster in 2008.
The Spread of Postdoc Unions – Why Postdoc Unions are growing in the US.
Really scraping the bottom… can’t we at least get parental leave during a postdoc? – A detailed article about parental leave for postdocs. Currently, as a PDF, you are not eligible for maternity/parental leave or any other benefits through EI.
Taxing times for Canadian postdocs – The affect of taxation on PDFs.
For more information about the campaign, contact Amanda, Conan, and Tim at: .
The PDF Union are supported and endorsed by University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Queen’s University, and the TA and PDA Union at Western.