FAQ

Questions:

  1. What is CUPE 3912?
  2. Am I a member of CUPE 3912?
  3. How do I become an Executive member?
  4. How do I join a committee?
  5. How do I become a steward?
  6. What is a collective agreement?
  7. Why did we unionize?
  8. How does CUPE 3912 differ from DAGS?
  9. What is bargaining?
  10. What is a grievance?
  11. What is precedence?

Answers:

1. What is CUPE 3912?

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3912.

  • We negotiate collective agreements that provide workers with job security, including protection from arbitrary changes to wage and working conditions.
  • We help employees to challenge management decisions without fear of retribution.
  • We are a political voice on campus, across the province, and in Ottawa.
  • We know the collective agreements and are able to inform you about them and stand up for your rights as a worker.
  • We are a community of people sharing enthusiasm, common interests and concerns.
  • We provide solidarity by connecting members at Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s and Mount Saint Vincent with each other.

For more about your union, visit our About page.


2. Am I a member of CUPE 3912?

CUPE 3912 members include:

  • part-time faculty at Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s and Mount Saint Vincent Universities, including clinical instructors and lab demonstrators;
  • teaching assistants and markers/demonstrators at Dalhousie University;
  • instructors at the TESL Centre at Saint Mary’s University.

If you are any of the above, you are a member of CUPE 3912.


3. How do I become an Executive Committee member?

If there are positions open on the Executive Committee, you may be:
1) nominated by any member (including yourself) at any of the General Annual Meetings and elected by the members to fill the open position;
2) nominated by another Executive Committee member and elected by the Executive Committee. In this case, you would be appointed by interim. The position becomes vacant again at the following General Annual Meeting, where you can run for the position.


4. How do I join a committee?

There are a number of committees active in our union. To join a committee, please contact cupe3912@dal.ca


5. How do I become a steward?

CUPE offers training in all the skills required to fulfill the functions of a steward. If you would like to become a union steward, please contact cupe3912@dal.ca


6. What is a collective agreement?

A Collective Agreement is an agreement in writing between an employer and a trade union. Your Collective Agreement contains provisions on the conditions of employment and the rights, privileges or duties of the employer, the trade union and the employees.


7. Why did we unionize?

The need for a union of part-time faculty and teaching assistants in Halifax universities was long obvious. They were paid at best a third of the wages full-time faculty received for the same work, and they had no benefits and no job security. The supposed justification of these conditions, that this was merely a temporary “apprenticeship” stage in an academic career, had worn thin. And, while the part-timers and TAs often received sympathy from tenured faculty, this resulted in no action on the part of the full-time faculty unions which made any real difference to conditions. The need for a separate part-time/TA union was apparent. Active efforts to create the present union began in 1991 at Dalhousie University.

There are, however, considerable difficulties in establishing a union of employees hired on short term contracts, because of the rapid turnover involved. The struggle for improved working conditions for our members continues to this day.

Read a detailed history of our union here.


8. How does CUPE 3912 differ from DAGS?

The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students (DAGS) is an umbrella organization that represents graduate students at Dalhousie University in academic and student life matters, acting as an advocate of graduate students at the local, provincial, and national levels. CUPE 3912 represents teaching assistants, markers and demonstrators at Dalhousie in matters of employment conditions including payment, hours of work, and work responsibilities.


9. What is bargaining?

Bargaining is the process of negotiation between the employees and the employer. The employees are usually represented by an elected group which forms the bargaining team for the union. On the other side, the employer as well creates a group to represent the employer at the negotiations and this group is usually led by the Chief Negotiator. The bargaining can take place at different times and take place at different levels of intensity. It can vary from negotiating over a minor issue to negotiating the collective agreement. Our union negotiates separate collective agreements at each of the three campuses covered by our union.


10. What is a grievance?

By the Nova Scotia Labour Board Act and other laws such as the Health and Safety Act and the Labour Standards Code, all people employed in the province of Nova Scotia have certain rights and privileges, as well as obligations. In addition, our collective agreements provide for additional rights and privileges which pertain specifically to our working environment. In case a member and/or our union feel that any of those rights or obligations has been violated, the member and/or our union may, if the matter cannot be resolved informally, file a grievance with the employer. The departmental stewards, as well as the Vice-Presidents for each campus are mandated to assist in filing of a grievance.


11. What is precedence?

One of the most important terms of our collective agreements is the tracking of members’ seniority, which we refer to as precedence. As a rule, if two individuals with equal qualifications apply for the same job, the member with the most precedence at the hiring institution must be awarded the contract for the job. (Note: Precedence for Dalhousie TAs is tabulated informally by each department and is not recorded by the local.)

The deadlines for changing errors in the precedence lists are quite restricted, so please be sure to check your collective agreements for dates and deadlines.