Thanks to your strong strike mandate (93%!), the University finally responded to our financial package after sitting on it for over two months. However, the response was offensive and disappointing as it did not take into account the financial realities our members face.
Aside from rejecting both the cost of living adjustment (COLA) language that would align annual stipend increases with the rate of inflation and undergraduate TA parity, the University proposed:
2.5% effective September 1, 2022 (an additional $137.5 per one regular appointment, roughly $17 per paycheck for grad TAs);
2% effective September 1, 2023 (an additional $113 per semester, roughly $14 per paycheck for grad TAs);
2% effective September 1, 2024 (an additional $116 per semester, roughly $14.50 per paycheck for grad TAs).
That’s only 6.5% over the life of the agreement. 6.5% doesn’t account for the over 8% pay gap that currently exists between regular appointment TAs at Carleton and the University of Ottawa. And it doesn’t begin to touch the astronomical inflation you and your colleagues have experienced over the past year and a half. Make no mistake: a salary offer that fails to account for inflation is a pay cut.
Further, the percentage increase only serves to widen the pay gap between undergraduate and graduate TA pay. The employer flatout said they’re not interested in wage parity for undergrads. While this offer is dismal for graduate TAs, as it fails to account for the soaring costs of food and housing, it’s even worse for undergrads. This offer amounts to $0.61 per hour for undergrads in the first year, and even less in subsequent years.
They also rejected all of the proposed annual Funds, including an Emergency Fund and instead opted to offer a $20k one time payment to the Union. Their counter proposal encapsulates the University’s patch-over approach to systemic issues they have a hand in creating and maintaining, including the poverty wages they’ve offered.
Furthermore, they rejected our proposed additions to the Employee Assistance Fund that would increase coverage for prescription drugs and mental health care costs.
You and your colleagues are facing record high inflation and cost of living, and have taken year-over-year pay cuts when adjusted for inflation. TAs are the largest group of workers on campus. Carleton works because you and your colleagues do. You deserve wages and benefits that reflect that. You deserve wages and benefits that aren’t a poverty sentence.
And that’s why we’re calling a Special Unit 1 Caucus on Tuesday, February 28 (details TBA). Your bargaining team is demanding salary adjustments that account for your needs and the value you bring to the University. You gave us a clear strike mandate, now come have your say about red lines.
Yours in Solidarity,
The Unit 1 Bargaining Team
Sloane Mulligan, Unit 1 Lead Negotiator
Noreen Cauley-Le Fevre, President
Sarah Fiander, VP Internal
Zoë Abernethy, VP Unit 1
Davide Ventrone, VP External
Ewen Cameron, TA and Member Mobilizer
Ariel Becherer, Bargaining Team Member
Codie Fortin Lalonde, Acting Business Agent and Organizer