The What, When, Who, and How of CUPE 2626: All You Need to Know About CUPE 2626 

CUPE 2626 acknowledges that the University of Ottawa and CUPE 2626 occupy unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin territory. 

What is CUPE 2626? 

A bit of History 

CUPE 2626 represents thousands of Teaching and Research Assistants, Markers, Tutors, Lab Monitors, Demonstrators, Proctors and Lifeguards at the University of Ottawa.CUPE 2626 is a local section of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (or “CUPE National”), the largest union in Canada, with over 680,000 members across the country. CUPE 2626 was formed in 1997 following a unionization drive organized by TAs and RAs in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering to fight back against the arbitrary nature of contract attribution and pay rates in different departments. Since its formation, the union has been working for more than 20 years to ensure that all student workers receive equitable treatment, working conditions, salaries, and contract attribution across campus. 

In general, unions are associations of workers that promote social justice. They work primarily to improve the quality of life and working conditions of their members. Successes achieved by one union can impact working conditions in all sectors of the economy. Union officers understand that people must work together to solve problems, and unions are a mechanism for doing so.

How do I know if I’m a member? 

To be a member of CUPE 2626 you need:

  1. To be a student (it does not matter if you are an undergraduate or graduate student). 
  2. To have been a teaching assistant, research assistant, demonstrator, laboratory monitor, tutor, corrector, or proctor in the last twelve months. This means that you do not need to currently be working in any of the above positions to be a member. You only need to have had a contract in the last twelve months and be a student. 

Note 

The number of contracted hours do not impact membership. For example, if you were an exam proctor, and your contract was only for 3 hours,  you are still a member. 

When you are no longer a student, you are no longer a member, even if you currently hold or held a contract in the past twelve months.

What is the difference between CUPE 2626, the Graduate Student Association (GSAÉD), and the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU)? 

CUPE 2626 represents you in all matters related to your contract position, while the GSAÉD represents graduate students and the UOSO represents undergraduate students with regards to your academic status. If you have a workplace issue or question (i.e. unpaid hours of work, etc.) contact CUPE 2626. If you have a question or issue related to your studies at the University of Ottawa and are a graduate student you should contact the GSAÉD; if you are an undergraduate student you should contact the UOSO.

What are some of my basic rights? 

To be unionized means that CUPE 2626 works to ensure that you, as an employee, are treated fairly and provided a safe and healthy environment to work. CUPE 2626 negotiates with uOttawa to produce a document called Collective Agreement. Our Collective Agreement is an integral part of our member’s individual employment contracts. It outlines – among other things – the rights, benefits and work conditions of student workers at uOttawa. 

How can I ensure a smooth working environment with my work supervisor? 

Problems that arise are often not intentionally set into motion but instead develop through miscommunication and misunderstandings about the rights and duties of student workers.

Common examples of problems that arise for our members include: surpassing the number of hours in your contract, being expected to perform additional tasks which are not included or related to the tasks in your contract, being asked to work beyond the contract date, and being expected to work more than 8 hours in a day, 25 hours in one week or 40 hours in two weeks.

Therefore, we strongly suggest meeting with your work supervisor to clarify tasks and expectations at the beginning of your contract. In this meeting be sure to clarify:

  • Your roles and responsibilities
  • How your contract hours are to be used
    • For example, if you are working as a teaching assistant,  you need to be informed about how many hours should be spent grading the first assignment, how many hours can be dedicated to answering students emails,  how many hours can be dedicated to understanding the class material,  etc.

It is also useful to remember that you cannot be asked to:

  • Work beyond a maximum of 8 hours a day, 25 hours a week, or  40 hours in two weeks.
  • Work beyond the number of hours of your contract.
  • Work beyond the end date of your contract.

As a courtesy, it is best to remind your work supervisor of these regulations when discussing your roles and responsibilities.  This can help prevent certain miscommunications and misunderstandings. Often, when you are asked to do something against the terms of the Collective Agreement, it is done so unknowingly. 

If ever you have problems with your contract or work supervisors, you can always reach out to us. All issues brought to our attention are taken seriously and remain confidential. CUPE 2626 tailors its approach for the context-specific situation you are experiencing. There are multiple ways to address a work-related issue (both formally and informally), and we do not do anything without your permission. 

What are some common problems that arise? 

Common Problem: I am being asked to complete tasks not outlined in my contract. What should I do?

The professor you are working for can ask you to perform new tasks not explicitly mentioned in their contract as long as they are still relevant to the work (i.e.supervise a re-take exam). You cannot be asked to do tasks which are not connected to your contract (i.e. personal work for the supervisor or tasks of a research assistant while having a teaching assistant contract and vice versa).

Furthermore, any additional tasks must be factored into the remaining hours of your contract. If you are confused as to whether or not a specific task falls into your contract feel free to contact us!

Common Problem: I think I will finish the hours in my contract before I finish all the tasks or before the end of the contract, what should I do?

If you suspect that you will run out of your allotted hours before the end date of your contract or before the completion of your assigned tasks you must first fill out a Workload Review Form (Appendix E) and present it to the professor you work with before exceeding your hours. The professor must then meet with you within four business days of receiving the form to discuss how best to complete your tasks within your remaining hours.

It is possible to receive additional hours to complete your contractual tasks if deemed necessary by the professor and you agree. In such circumstances, approval must be given in writing by the Chair of the relevant department.

Common Problem:  I don’t know what tasks to count in my hours?

All tasks you perform as an employee are counted in the hours you work. This includes reading assigned texts, meeting with the professor you are working with, and showing up for class. Even if an assigned task takes longer than expected, you should count the hours which you actually worked.

What about paid mandatory training?

CUPE 2626 members who complete the Health & Safety training will receive a lump sum payment of $200.

In order to receive this payment, all seven (7) mandatory training modules must be completed:

  1. Accessibility Standards for Customer Service
  2. Respect in the Workplace
  3. Violence Prevention
  4. Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness**
  5. Worker Health and Safety Awareness
  6. Working Together: The Code and the AODA
  7. What to do when someone discloses an alleged incident of sexual violence – Module 1

Your $200 will be directly deposited to the same bank account as your salary deposit. Payments are usually made within the next 30 working days after the end of each academic term. 

Please note that you may also have hours in a contract designated specifically for training in lieu of compensation. Remember to discuss your duties and responsibilities with your work supervisor. 

For more information, the training modules list, and instructions click here.

Are there any funds available through CUPE 2626? 

CUPE 2626 has multiple funds: 

  • Financial Aid Fund 
  • Emergency Fund
  • Conference Fund
  • Solidarity Fund
  • Health and Dental Fund

For more information, see here

Do you folks have any workshops or events? 

CUPE 2626 has two main general assemblies throughout the year, workshops, and various other events. 

General Assemblies

General Assemblies allow members to elect union officers, vote on union finances, approve bargaining mandates, and generally have their say in union affairs. In a normal academic year, CUPE 2626 organizes two General Assemblies: the Regular General Assembly (RGA) in the Fall semester and the Annual General Assembly (AGA) in the Winter Semester. When necessary, Special General Assemblies (SGA) may also be called.

Typically, there is free food at our general assemblies, door prizes, and much more. Because of COVID-19, we are looking at how our general assemblies can take place online. 

Our RGA is taking  place on  Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Our AGA is taking place on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 

Workshops and Other Events

Check our social media and website to find out more about our workshops and other events! We are still finalizing our calendar of events!

How can I get involved? 

There are a variety of ways you can get involved. You can be directly involved by being a Steward or an Executive Board member. 

Stewards sit on the CUPE 2626 Stewards’ Council (SC) where they represent their respective department. As part of the Council, Stewards play an important role in keeping lines of communication open between the Executive Board and the membership, and in advising the Executive Board between General Assemblies. To be a Steward, you must be elected by your department.

You can also be directly involved by becoming a member of the Executive Board. Executive Board members are elected at the general assemblies and are elected by our members. For more information on the various roles, click here. 

How do I get ahold of you? 

Our office is located in the University Center, room 303. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we are not in the office. However, you can get a hold of us by email at info@2626.ca.

You can also reach out to us via Twitter and Facebook.