Over 200 invigilators at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Oshawa, Ontario, are now Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members following an overwhelming vote in favour of unionization.
The invigilators supervise exams, tests and labs and are precariously employed by UOIT on unpredictable, short-term contracts. They have not received a raise since 2007.
“I want to extend a warm welcome to these workers as the newest members of our union,” said Sharon DeSousa, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the Ontario Region. “I look forward to working together to ensure any workplace concerns are quickly addressed.”
The invigilators will join PSAC’s existing Directly Chartered Local 555 at UOIT, which includes over 450 research and teaching assistants as well as other academic workers.
Unionizing the university sector, fighting precarious work
PSAC has a long history of organizing in Canada’s universities and now counts over 30,000 members from this sector in its ranks. Recently, the union also filed for certification of additional workers at McGill University and the University of Saskatchewan, where PSAC locals already exist.
For at least two decades, Canadian universities have increasingly turned to short-term contracts for their academic and support staff. This has led to chronically low wages, no pensions and few, if any, benefits for many workers in the sector.
At the May 2018 PSAC Triennial National Convention, members voted overwhelmingly to campaign against the rise in precarious work and reaffirmed the union’s commitment to organizing the unorganized. Meanwhile, last November, delegates from PSAC’s Directly Chartered Locals, the vast majority of whom represent university workers, gathered in Montreal to discuss addressing precarious work in the sector.