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Union of Graduate Student Workers announces strike vote

The Union of Graduate Student Workers [UGSW] will conduct a strike vote Feb. 15 and 16.

The vote does not determine whether they go to strike, but whether or not the graduate students will accept the terms offered to them by the university.

UGSW executive president Joe Blades announced Friday, Jan. 22 on the union website and Facebook page that the union will be taking the vote.

“If UGSW members vote to not accept the employer’s final offer, it still does not mean a strike. We cannot make that decision, or take that action, unless the [Public Service Alliance of Canada]’s national president makes a decision that we can strike,” said Blades.

The union, which represents graduate student employees, including graduate teaching assistants [GTAs] and graduate research assistants [GRAs], has been in negotiations with UNB admin since spring 2013 when their collective agreement expired.

The UGSW is a local member of the Public Service Alliance of Canada [PSAC], a nationwide collective of union. The UGSW would need their approval before moving to an actual strike.

PSAC will be coordinating the February vote. According to Blades’ post, the vote will determine whether the UGSW accepts or rejects their employer’s final offer.

An acceptance would result in a Collective Agreement signed by the union, while a rejection would move the process on to mediation and more negotiations.

“I want to be very clear that this Strike Vote does not mean that our membership is voting to go on strike,” Blades said.

“We are a long way from that. We would rather get a good Collective Agreement. We would rather continue our academic studies and graduate student worker employment than be on a picket line.”

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