Bargaining Updates

19 September 2013
Queen’s Postpones Conciliation Talks

After two days of conciliation this week, Queen’s University has pulled out of bargaining, saying that the University needs more time to respond to the Union’s proposals.

The decision by the University to delay further talks came after the Postdoctoral Fellows’ bargaining team gave Queen’s a comprehensive counter-proposal on wages, benefits, union security provisions and management rights.

The University has not said when it plans to return to the bargaining table. The parties have been in negotiations for a first contract for Postdoctoral Fellows for more than one-and-a-half years.

Queen’s finally responded in early September to a wage proposal tabled by the Union last April.

But the University’s wage proposal, which would see pay increases for fewer than 10 out of approximately 200 postdoctoral employees over a six-year period, was flatly rejected by the PSAC bargaining team.

In addition, Postdoctoral Fellows at Queen’s have given the Public Service Alliance of Canada an overwhelming mandate to call a strike if necessary in order to achieve a fair and reasonable first contract with the University. Postdocs voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action at meetings held last September 10-12.

The parties have had a total of five days of bargaining since September 5, with the assistance of a conciliator appointed by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

In conciliation talks on September 17 and 18, the parties signed off on three more articles: Union Representation, Intellectual Property and Pay Administration.

Besides Wages, Pensions and Benefits, and Union Security, several other articles remain outstanding.

PSAC Local 901, Unit 2, is planning a meeting for Tuesday, September 24, to discuss the possible strike by Postdoctoral Fellows. The location is yet to be determined.

Your Bargaining Team thanks you for your support. Please continue to monitor this website as we will be posting news of further developments as soon as they occur.

In Solidarity,
YOUR BARGAINING TEAM

16 September 2013

Postdoctoral Fellows at Queen’s University Ready to Strike

Kingston – Nearly 200 Postdoctoral Fellows at Queen’s University have been waiting over a year and a half for a first contract. On September 10, 11 and 12, 2013, strike votes were held and postdoctoral fellows voted 92 per cent in favour of a strike if Queen’s does not address their concerns.

Postdoctoral fellows, who are represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), are asking for a fair agreement that includes protections to the intellectual property of their work, academic freedom and improved compensation and benefits.

Postdoctoral Fellows are the only full-time employees at the University who do not have a dental plan and many are also denied extended health care and other benefits.

“When you have workers who hold a PhD and are working on potential cures for cancer and other illnesses struggling to make ends meet, you have a serious problem”, states Sharon DeSousa, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for Ontario. “The University should be moving quickly to resolve these issues and provide their employees with the respect they deserve.”

Postdoctoral fellows are dependent on their supervisors for future academic employment, placing them in a vulnerable situation. Without a contract to protect them, which includes a grievance procedure, situations of harassment or exploitation can go unreported.

PSAC and Queen’s University are currently in conciliation until this Thursday, September 19, 2013. If no agreement is reached by this time, postdoctoral fellows could be locked out or in a strike by mid-October.

September 9th, 2013

Slow movement in Conciliation: Union calls Strike Mandate Vote

Little progress was made at the bargaining table on September 5, 6, and 9, 2013, when talks for a first contract for Queen’s Postdoctoral Fellows were convened under the auspices of a Conciliator assigned by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

As expected, the University continues to drag its feet on the issues important to Postdocs, with highly insulting responses to the Union’s proposals.

Queen’s has offered:

  • No wage increase for anyone in the bargaining unit until the end of 2015, and then an increase only for postdocs earning less than $31,000 per year
  • No retroactive pay
  • No dental plan for at least two more years
  • No Union security

Other articles still outstanding include:

  • Union Leave
  • Union Representation and Activities
  • Intellectual Property
  • Management Rights
  • Grievance Procedure
  • Union Security
  • Services and Facilities
  • Wages and Pay Administration
  • Pension and Benefits
  • Vacations
  • Duration and Renewal
  • Over the last three days of negotiations, we did manage to reach agreement with the University on the following four articles only:
  • Purpose
  • Designated Paid Holidays
  • Academic Freedom
  • Discipline and Discharge

We will be back at the table, with the assistance of the Conciliator, on 17 September 2013.

Your bargaining team is calling for a strong strike mandate to demonstrate your support for a fair and decent first contract.

There will be six voting meetings from 10-12 September. Please check this website for further details!

VOTE YES for a fair first contact! You deserve it!

In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Team  

Dr. Harish Chander, Cancer Research Institute
Dr. Abdi Ghaffari, Cancer Research Institute
MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Regional Representative
Shawn Vincent, PSAC Research Officer
Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator

May 15, 2013
Queen’s to Postdocs: You’re not worth it!
Contract talks between the Union for postdocs and Queen’s broke off yesterday after the University bargaining team refused to respond to the PSAC’s economic proposals.
The Union offered a comprehensive economic package during negotiations in April, proposing minimum rates of pay and wage increases retroactive to union certification in July, 2011.
The wages proposed by the Union would establish a minimum start rate of $40,000 per year effective July, 2013. PSAC also proposed that postdocs be entitled to the provisions of the Queen’s extended health care plan on the same basis as all other full-time employees at Queen’s – including the dental and vision care plans.
The University did not even respond to the Union’s pay administration language – the protocols for depositing pay in your bank accounts – or the vacation proposals, even though Ontario legislation does provide for at least minimum periods of vacation.
“We are more than disappointed at the University’s dismissive attitude to the hard work and the value-added that postdocs bring to Queen’s,” said team member Harish Chander, a postdoc from the Cancer Research Institute and Union bargaining team member.
“To not receive a counter-proposal on even the pro-forma elements of the economic package is really an insult.”
The bargaining team for the University said they could not respond “at this time” because they had received a letter from the former Treasurer of Ontario (in the previous Liberal government that was prorogued last year) telling the University not to agree to wage increases – even though the University has always insisted at the bargaining table that wage increases will not come from the University’s operating budget (provided in large part by the province) but from the grants of Faculty Supervisors.
In addition, other universities in Ontario – notably the University of Western Ontario in London – have agreed to wage increases for both postdocs and teaching assistants. Why should postdocs at Queen’s be second-class?
The parties did reach tentative agreement on the Hours of Work article, but many other issues remain outstanding, including:

  • Academic Freedom
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Grievance Procedure (Queen’s is insisting on language that would prohibit postdocs from grieving if they are terminated before the end of their contracts due to a ‘decrease in funding’ and if they are found guilty of academic misconduct)
  • Union Security
  • Union Representation

PSAC told Queen’s that the Union’s next step will be to apply for conciliation – a process under the Ontario Labour Relations Act by which the Minister of Labour appoints a provincial conciliator to try to help the parties bridge their difference.
The team would like to thank Dr. Greg Anger, of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, for all of his valuable contributions to these first-contract negotiations. We wish him the best as he moves on to other endeavors.
Please stay tuned for further developments. Your wages and working conditions are at stake! Queen’s relies on the work postdocs perform to stake a claim in having a strong reputation in research excellence. The Union wants to negotiate. Postdocs deserve a fair deal!
In solidarity,
Your Bargaining Team
Dr. Harish Chander, Cancer Research Institute
Dr. Abdi Ghaffari, Cancer Research Institute
Dr. Laura Carlson, Department of History
MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Regional Representative
Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator

January 23, 2013

First-contract talks for postdocs continue

Negotiations for the first collective agreement for postdocs resumed on 21 and 22 January 2013.

We had productive discussions with the Employer’s team about the work postdocs perform in different disciplines, and are continuing discussions about Discipline, Suspension, and Discharge.

We are pleased to report that we’ve reached tentative agreement on the following articles:

  • Leaves (with the exception of Union Leave, which remains outstanding);
  • Safe Disclosure;
  • Postdoctoral Fellow Form; and
  • No Strike No Lockout.

Your team continues to have in-depth discussions about Academic Freedom and Intellectual Property, and have presented counter-proposals on both Articles.

We would like to thank Dr. Brendan Sweeney of the Industrial Relations Centre at Queen’s for all his contributions to these first-contract negotiations. Brendan has been an important member of the Union’s bargaining team from the outset of negotiations. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Please join us in welcoming your newest bargaining team members: Dr. Laura Carlson, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of History; Dr. Abdi Ghaffari, a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Research Institute; and Dr. Michelle North, a postdoctoral fellow atKingston GeneralHospital. Laura and Abdi joined the team at the negotiating table during this session, and look forward to continuing to help negotiate the first collective agreement for postdocs at Queen’s.

We will be back at the table with the Employer again on 4 and 5 February, 2013. Please continue to check the PSAC website, http://psac901.org for future updates.

In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Team

Dr. Harish Chander, Cancer Research Institute

Dr. Laura Carlson, Department of History

Dr. Abdi Ghaffari, Cancer Research Institute

MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Regional Representative

Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator

Download the Press Release  Here

October 26, 2012

Academic Freedom a challenge at the bargaining table

Your bargaining team met with the University on October 25 and 26, 2012, and is pleased to be able to report continued progress.

We have reached tentative agreement on the following collective agreement articles:

  • Article 12 – Appointments
  • Article 17 – Personnel Files
  • Article 18 – Probationary Employees

Productive discussion was held with the University bargaining team on the development of a Postdoctoral Fellow Form intended to review and discuss anticipated areas of responsibilities and expectations when a postdoc joins Queen’s.

We also had a useful exchange of ideas on Health and Safety and Intellectual Property language, which may lead to tentative agreement at our next bargaining session.

Your team was very disturbed, however, to learn that the University’s bargaining team thinks we deserve very restricted rights but many responsibilities with respect to “freedom in research” and no “academic freedom” with respect to our views on any of our duties, or the administration of the university in general.

It is very disconcerting to find that the University agrees that faculty and students have academic freedom – as do Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows in the course of their employment at Queen’s – but postdocs do not. The University’s position is a significant challenge in our road to a first collective agreement.

Future bargaining dates have not yet been finalized. Please continue to check the website for updates and we’ll let you know when we’re returning to the table.

Meanwhile, we know you will join the other bargaining team members in thanking Dr. Carl Jackson of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies for his many contributions to our Union and our effort to achieve a first contract. Carl has been an important member of the Union’s bargaining team from the outset. He will be leaving Queen’s at the end of November. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

In solidarity,

YOUR BARGAINING TEAM

Download the Communique Here

October 17, 2012

Headway made in first-contract talks for postdocs

Negotiations for a first collective agreement for postdocs at Queen’s resumed on 15-17 October 2012.  We had productive discussions with the Employer’s bargaining team about the related proposals of Personnel File, Discipline, and Probationary Employees.  Your bargaining team is pleased to report that we’ve reached tentative agreement on the following articles: Evaluations; No Discrimination and No Harassment; and Court Leave, and Pregnancy and Parental Leave provisions.

Please join us in welcoming your newest bargaining team member, Dr. Harish Chander, a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Research Institute. Harish has been a postdoctoral fellow for the past seven years (five years at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and two years here at Queen’s). He looks forward to helping negotiate the first collective agreement for postdocs at Queen’s.

We expect to be back at the table with the Employer again next week on 25 and 26 October 2012.

In addition, we will be hosting an event for all postdoctoral fellows at the Grad Club on Thursday, October 25th, 2012, from 5:30 to 7:30pm. Refreshments will be provided. This get-together is a chance for postdocs to discuss common concerns, such as research interests, academic freedom, intellectual property, and workplace atmosphere. We will also be able to give you an update on bargaining.   We look forward to seeing you there.

Please continue to check the PSAC website, http://psac901.org for future updates.

In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Team

Dr. Harish Chander, Cancer Research Institute

Dr. Carl Jackson, Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Dr. Brendan Sweeney, Industrial Relations Centre

MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Regional Representative

Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator

Download the post

25 May 2012

More progress made at the bargaining table

On May 24 and 25, your Bargaining Team met with representatives of the University to continue negotiations for our first collective agreement.

We’ve tentatively signed off on two more articles: “Research and Professional Expenses and Facilities,” which outlines provisions postdoctoral employees are entitled to, particularly when doing field research; and “Technological Change,” which protects employees from job loss resulting from the introduction of new technology, and guarantees training if it is required.

We also had useful discussions on leave provisions (e.g. pregnancy and parental leave, sick leave, bereavement leave, etc.), and on whistle-blowing language. And the parties have exchanged proposals on the following articles:   Grievance Procedure, Arbitration, Discipline, Personnel Files, and Evaluations.

We will return to the bargaining table on July 4, 5, and 6, 2012. In the interim, your team will be meeting in June to prepare for future talks.

Please continue to check the PSAC 901 website, http://psac901.org for future updates.

In solidarity,
Your Bargaining Team
Dr. Carl Jackson, Centre for Neuroscience Studies
Dr. Ashish Rajput,  Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine
Dr. Brendan Sweeney, Industrial Relations Centre
MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Regional Representative
Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator

communique May 25, 2012

May 18, 2012

First contract talks for postdocs continue

Your bargaining team continued to make gradual progress in negotiations with Queen’s for a first collective agreement for postdoctoral employees on May 14th and 15th, 2012.

We have reached tentative agreement on one more article, “Outside Professional Activities.” This brings the number of articles that the Union and the University have reached tentative agreement on to three (we reached tentative agreement on “Recognition and Exclusions” and “Joint Union-Management Committee” in previous negotiations). We are close to agreement on three other articles.

Talks on several other articles, including “Union Security” and “Union Representation” articles, have been difficult. Queen’s is resisting terms and conditions similar to those in other collective agreements with employees at other universities.

Your bargaining team believes that Postdoctoral Fellows are not second-class employees, and that we deserve respect, rights, and protections similar to those of other university employees.

Negotiations will resume on May 24th and 25th.

Stay tuned for further developments.

In solidarity,
Your Bargaining Team
Dr. Carl Jackson, Centre of Neuroscience Studies
Dr. Ashish Rajput,   Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine
Dr. Brendan Sweeney, Industrial Relations Centre
MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Regional Representative
Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator

PDF barg update 18 May 2012

April 27, 2012

Negotiations begin for first contract for Queen’s postdocs

Negotiations for a first Collective Agreement between postdoctoral employees and Queen’s University opened on April 19, 2012 with your Bargaining Team tabling a comprehensive package of proposals.

The University did not provide the PSAC team with its own proposals for a first contract, preferring instead to respond to the Union’s demands.

Bargaining began in earnest on April 20th and continued through the following week. Much of this time was spent discussing issues and clarifying proposals.   Some progress has been made. The parties have reached tentative agreement on two articles and have had good talks on several others.

The Chief Negotiator for the University is Marie Doherty, Associate Director, Faculty Relations.

Your Bargaining Team consists of Dr. Carl Jackson, Centre for Neuroscience Studies; Dr. Ashish Rajput, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine; Dr. Brendan Sweeney; Industrial Relations Centre; and Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator. Your team will be assisted from time to time by MaryAnne Laurico, PSAC Regional Representative, and Shawn Vincent, PSAC Research Officer.

We would like to thank Dr. Paul Alexandre, Department of Geological Sciences, for his many contributions leading up to the opening of negotiations. Paul served on the bargaining team but has left the bargaining unit. We wish him well in his future endeavours!

Negotiations are set to resume on May 14/15 and May 24/25.   Please continue to check this website for future developments.

Thank you for your support!

In solidarity,
Your Postdoctoral Fellow Bargaining Team

Queens PDF Negs Update 27 April 2012