POSTED ON January 01,1970
Student Workers Now Considered CUPE 2626 Members!

For a number of years now, we were under the impression that uOttawa was hiring students to perform tasks related to research, while failing to recognize that they were CUPE 2626 members. The problem was actually bigger than imagined. And we settled it.

 

The Context

uOttawa  routinely hires students for research-related work through the Work-Study or CO-OP programs. These students can be found in research contexts as diverse as engineering, science and social sciences.

For many years, these students were paid at arbitrary rates, sometimes as low as $12 an hour — well below the rates offered to research assistants under our Collective Agreement.

In the fall of 2017, two students in this situation approached us to learn about their working conditions. From there, we confirmed that the University hires students to do research at ridiculously low rates.

We were very mad about this situation

The Issue

This political grievance deals with the University’s unwillingness to recognize that these jobs are covered under our Collective Agreement.

The University’s position was that students hired for research-related work are not members of our union. Consequently, these student workers did not enjoy the benefits, protections and wage rates stated in our Collective Agreement.

CUPE 2626 took the opposite stance and decided to defend their workers’ rights.

Our Victory

After months of discussions and seeing that the University wouldn’t come to a mutual agreement, CUPE 2626 chose to bring the issue to arbitration.

In November 2018, the parties agreed that students hired to do research under the Work-Study or CO-OP programs are indeed members of CUPE 2626.

The settlement includes a retroactive payment for the student workers hired between September 2017 and December 2018.

Here’s what this win brings to our new members:

We're pretty happy about this settlement

Work-Study

We have succeeded in ensuring that students hired under the Work-Study program to perform research-related tasks are recognized as members of CUPE 2626. They are entitled to:

COOP

We have also been successful in ensuring that students enrolled in a CO-OP program and hired to do research to meet the requirements of their program of study are recognized as members of CUPE 2626. They are entitled to:

The agreement provides specific salary conditions for these student workers.

Considering the following aspects:

  • These students work full-time (35 hours per week), that is, beyond the 10 hours per week typically worked by our members
  • Most CO-OP students are hired off campus, mainly by the federal government
  • The CO-OP program hires international students, who otherwise face barriers when seeking off-campus work
  • These students receive academic credits for their work, which contribute to meet the requirements to get CO-OP recognition on their University of Ottawa diploma

We negotiated an advantageous but realistic salary grid that prevents supervisors from arbitrarily choosing the salary rate of their employees.

Academic Level 1st Placement 2nd Placement 3rd Placement 4th Placement 5th Placement
Undergraduate $15.01 $16.03 $17.15 $18.35 $19.67
Graduate (master’s degree) $19.67 $21.21 $22.91 $24.74 N/A

Special Thanks

This victory would not have been possible without the commitment of the two students who came to see us in the fall of 2017. These people could have quickly settled their case, but agreed to go on with the grievance process for over year to improve everyone’s working conditions.

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