Special Bulletin

Sent on behalf of Sarah Ficko, GSA President and Former VP Labour, and Sasha van der Klein, GSA VP Labour

This communication is to inform you of the completion of the current round of collective bargaining on behalf of University of Alberta graduate students, between the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the University’s Board of Governors (BoG). Both the GSA Council and the Board of Governors recently ratified the Graduate Student Assistantship Collective Agreement, as negotiated by the respective negotiating teams.

The Collective Agreement is a legally binding contract between GSA and the BoG, offering protection for Graduate Assistants and regulating the terms and conditions of their employment.

As a part of this agreement, the GSA negotiated a compensation package for a two-year period from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2018. Effective September 1, 2016, the salary component of the stipend paid to Graduate Assistants will increase by 1.6%. (In the Collective Agreement, the award component is tied to increases in tuition, which is frozen for 2016-17). The overall increase to the entire stipend (including a salary and an award component) effective September 1, 2017 will be an additional 2.0%. The Memorandum of Settlement specifies, “the parties agree to renegotiate the 2017-2018 stipend rates if the 2% overall increase is insufficient to cover any increase to the Graduate Fee Index that would apply to the award portion of the stipend.”

In addition, the GSA successfully negotiated for continued support of the Graduate Student Assistance Program and an increase to the Graduate Student Support Fund (GSSF). The GSSF has been increased by $100,000 for 2016-2017 and a further $25,000 for 2017-2018 for a total of $789,000 in 2016-2017 and $814,000 in 2017-2018 to support GSA Academic Travel Awards, Child Care Grants, Emergency Bursaries, and Recognition Awards – all of which the GSA directly allocates to graduate students. See the GSA website for more information on these programs.

There have been several changes to the Collective Agreement including separating Research Assistants into two categories: 1) Graduate Research Assistants employed to work on a project unrelated to their thesis, and 2) students offered a Graduate Research Assistantship Fellowship (GRAF), which is not considered employment and is funding to support a student doing activities for their graduate degree. To read more about these changes which will be effective September 1, 2016, please click here.

You can contact Sasha van der Klein at gsa.vplabour@ualberta.ca and/or Heather Hogg at gsa.vplabour@ualberta.ca for more information.