They are graduate students who grade assignments, conduct research, work in laboratories and do a range of other essential academic work, and they are one of the few remaining groups of non-unionized workers at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Over the next two days (April 1-2), graduate research and teaching assistants at Memorial will be voting on the question of union certification for a second time. A similar unionization drive and vote was held in 2005. Back then, the Teaching Assistants Union at Memorial University of Newfoundland (TAUMAN) came up four votes short of forming their first union.
If the graduate assistants are successful this week, they will become the 13th certified bargaining unit at Memorial University. There are currently seven locals of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE locals 1804, 1809, 7405, 7801, 7803, 7804, 7850), three locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE locals 1615, 3336, 4554), as well as the faculty union (MUNFA) and the recently certified lecturers’ union (LUMUN).
I should also mention that, on top of these certified bargaining units, we have four separately incorporated student unions: the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union, the Grenfell College Student Union, the Marine Institute Students’ Union, and the Graduate Students’ Union.