Western University's graduate teaching assistants' union announced on Facebook today that TAs have voted in favour of a strike mandate.
“Graduate teaching assistants have delivered an overwhelmingly strong strike mandate,” said the union, Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 610, in the post. “This is a historic moment for our local.”
“We are very surprised and grateful to our members who supported us and our demands that were mandated by membership in the meeting, but we have to be mindful about the future,” says Dmitrii Marin, a member of the bargaining team and computer science PhD candidate.
PSAC Local 610 will meet with Western administration on Tuesday morning to discuss bargaining demands. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, PSAC Local 610 may go on strike.
“Our purpose is not to strike because striking is bad for everyone. It’s bad for students, it’s bad for teaching assistants and it’s bad for the university,” said Marin. “We just hope that we don’t have to use this powerful tool.”
According to Marin, PSAC Local 610 is looking for a real wage increase and a recognition by the university that the duration of graduate programs do not match the funding period.
According to an email sent by Provost Janice Deakin to the student body, the university has asked a conciliator to file a "no board report" with the provincial labour minister. A “no board report” signals that conciliated talks have failed to produce a settlement and that neither side can start a labour disruption until at least 17 days after the report is approved.
Marin said the university's no board report has made it possible for a strike/lockout to occur anytime after 17 days. Marin added that if the university did not request the no board, there might not have been a strike/lockout.
PSAC Local 610 will not release the strike vote results, which Marin says is normal practice for the organization.
“If we establish a precedent by releasing the numbers, we would have a majority of our members behind us, but we would not be able to effectively use it in order to reach a fair deal,” Marin said.
According to Marin, greater than 50 per cent of union members who cast a vote voted in favour of strike action. There is no required threshold for the vote to be valid.
Update (March 23, 1 p.m.): the information on the university's filing of the no board report has been updated for further clarity.