CUPE Local 3908
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1. What is a Greivance - Stephen Horner, President CUPE 3908

2. Upcoming Social Events

3. Unit 2 Bargaining Report - Diane Therrien, General Vice President

4. Member Profile: Karolyn Martin

5. Unit 2 Member: Log Your Hours Campaign

6. Feature: The Power of Solidarity - Sean Carleton, Chief Steward Unit 2

7. Unit 2 Report - Julia Smith, VP Unit 2

8. About this newsletter

9. Stewards

10. Bylaw Revision Meeting

11. Your CUPE 3908 Executive

Full edition in .pdf available here: Front/Back, Inside.


1. What is a Grievance?
Stephen Horner - President, CUPE 3908

As a Steward, one of the things I often heard from members was that they had never really understood why, as workers in an enlightened place like Trent, we needed a Union. That changed when they experienced arbitrary or unfair treatment, and found recourse through the grievance process.
     A grievance is a formal process for resolving concerns or complaints about working conditions. Both Unit 1 and Unit 2 members can use the grievance process. While grievances are ultimately resolved by a binding decision made by an arbitrator, the goal is a negotiated settlement prior to arbitration.
     In some cases, concerns can be resolved informally. An informal discussion of the issue with a supervisor is, in fact, the first step of the grievance process. Where that doesn't work, or where such a conversation would be risky, the grievance process begins at Step II—submission of a written grievance and a meeting between the Departmental Chair and a Union Steward. The Steward will clarify the worker's rights under the Collective Agreement (or relevant legislation), and propose a resolution. If the Chair agrees, or proposes an alternative satisfactory resolution, the grievance is withdrawn. If not, it can be advanced to the next stage—a meeting with HR (Step III) or the Dean (Step IV).
     What can be grieved? Almost any concern can be addressed through the grievance process. Because the early stages focus on negotiated settlement rather than a strict interpretation of the contract, members and stewards are encouraged to file grievances even if they aren't sure that a legal right has been violated. Think of the grievance process as a way to say “This is an issue of concern, and it needs to be heard”. It is important to realize that filing a grievance also benefits your fellow workers. Ideally, Collective Agreement rights would always be respected and everyone would always be treated fairly, and so we wouldn't ever have any grievances. But when that doesn't happen, filing a grievance lets the Employer know that something isn't working as it should. A history of grievances gives the Union the ability to demand changes to problematic practices and policies.
     If you have a concern, get in touch with your departmental steward. If you don't know who that is, email your Unit's chief steward: or
     Talking to your Union rep is always confidential. Your rep will offer options and advice, and will support you in whatever decision you make about the best way to resolve your concerns.
     Full text of the Collective Agreements can be found on our website,, under the “Publications” tab.


2. Social Events

We’ve got big plans for the winter term:    

January 26, 7:30pm-9:30pm,
Pub Night at the Black Horse (452 George Street North).    

January 29, 1pm,   
Winter Walk in Mount Pleasant with Professor Emeritus and naturalist John Wadland   

Labour Activist Café: details TBD

If you have an idea for a social event or would like to join the committee, email General Vice-President Diane Therrien: The committee meets monthly and is an easy but awesome way to get involved in your union.


3. Unit 2 Bargaining Report
Diane Therrien - General VP
Unit 2 was at the bargaining table with Trent University after their Collective Agreement (CA) expired in August 2011. Among the major issues addressed were: the hiring preference process for returning Graduate Teaching Assistants; monetary compensation for GTA's, undergraduate student markers and academic assistants; reimbursement for part of the cost of the Health Plan; and clarification regarding GTA time-use guidelines. Additional issues included: more thorough definitions regarding discrimination and sexual harassment policies, finances for the Professional Development and Employee Assistance Fund, and the development of a Union information workshop during orientation week for new Graduate students. Unit 2 members voted to accept the new CA on December 14th, and the University Board of Governors ratified the CA in early January. The new CA is thus in effect, and monetary increases will be applied retroactively. If you have questions about the new CA, please contact your CUPE 3908 executive committee. A digital copy of the new CA will be available shortly at 


4. Member Profile: Karolyn Martin


Karolyn Martin is a second-year MA candidate at Trent University in the interdisciplinary Theory, Culture and Politics program. Currently, she is studying the 2011 elimination of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Karolyn has been a CUPE 3908 Unit 2 steward for the Gender and Women’s Studies department since October, 2011, and she enjoys being able to chat with her colleagues about their work experiences. She’s also involved with the CUPE Social Events committee. Karolyn says, “Becoming involved in the Union has given me many opportunities to meet new friends and become involved in the Peterborough community.”

Know a CUPE 3908 member who you think should be profiled?
Let us know! Email




5. Unit 2 Members: Log Your Hours!

Keeping track of your hours using your CUPE logsheet to ensure that your paid work does not get in the way of your school work is important. Logging your hours and talking with your Course Supervisor and fellow workers throughout the semester can help you avoid working over the 120 hours of work for which you are paid each semester. As even more incentive, we will be running our logbook lotto again this semester: a chance to WIN 1 of 3 available prizes of $50 at the end of the semester just for filling in your logsheet! So drop by the CUPE office or one of our January events to pick up your new logsheet, or download one right from the CUPE website:

6. The Power of Solidarity - Sean Carleton, Chief Steward Unit 2

Time Magazine proclaimed 2011’s “Person of the Year” to be the “Protester.” And why not? It was, after all, a year in which authoritarian regimes violently resisted democratic change, conservative governments deepened their powers, austerity measures were extended, and corporate taxcuts were abandoned while corporate wealth grew, and many hard fought union victories were challenged, including the right to strike. In response, people rose up. From Tunis, Cairo, and Athens to Madison, New York, and Toronto, working class people staged the largest demonstrations for democracy and against political corruption and capitalism’s systemic economic injustice since the 1960s. Regimes fell, paralyzing general strikes were called, and public parks, squares, and foreclosed homes were occupied by millions of angry, frustrated, and yet hopeful people. Indeed, 2011 might be better understood not as “the year of the protester” but as a year of distinctly observable class struggle, in which the conflict between classes was clearly visible to all. In short, working people all over the globe, who form the vast majority of the world’s population, are recognizing that the extreme concentration of corporate wealth and power under capitalism is unequal, un-democratic, and unjust – and they are finding ways to fight back, together.
    But how does this relate to us as CUPE 3908 workers at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario? The answer is simple yet powerful: solidarity! Solidarity can be understood as the joining together of people struggling for similar goals, big and small, international and local, and can come in many different forms, including statements of encouragement, financial donations, and walking picket lines with workers on strike. This year your union, CUPE 3908, has played an active role in solidarity efforts that have connected all of us to a number of struggles in 2011. When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker attempted to pass union-busting legislation in February and provoked the largest demonstrations in that state since the Vietnam War, CUPE 3908 issued a statement of solidarity. When Harper’s newly re-elected Conservatives legislated CUPW postal workers back to work in the summer (and imposed a contract that was-worse-than what the employer, Canada Post, was offering), CUPE 3908 workers organized a march and walked downtown in solidarity with locked-out Peterborough postal workers. When OPSEU members went on strike at Fleming College in September, CUPE 3908 members walked the picket line every week until the workers received a contract. When Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society OPSEU workers did the same in November– the CUPE 3908 picket squad was there, too. And when the Occupy movement spread to Canada, CUPE 3908 members marched in the streets of Toronto, donated books to the free library and food to the open kitchen, and unanimously voted to donate $1000 to the efforts. Finally, President Stephen Horner attended the Labour Start conference in Istanbul Turkey in November, where he had the chance to make international contacts and express CUPE 3908’s commitment to global labour solidarity.
    So if, at times, the world feels like an overwhelming, awful place just remember: through love, compassion, and solidarity you, as a CUPE 3908 member, are always part of something much larger. You are part of a movement of protecting, demanding, and fighting for fair and just ways of living, working, and connecting to other people. Indeed, solidarity encapsulates the very idea of unionism: many people working together as one, in union, for the betterment of all.


7.Unit 2 Report
Julia Smith - VP Unit 2

Fall was a busy time for Unit 2 members.
     Orientation Week: Your union devoted considerable time, energy, and resources to Orientation Week to increase CUPE visibility and Unit 2 member involvement. By the end of the week, your Union Executive had spoken with almost every incoming graduate student worker.
     PDEA Fund: November applications have been processed and cheques will be sent out this month. The next deadline for applications is March 15; all forms and receipts must be received in the CUPE office by this time. Check out the CUPE website for more information or to download a form.
     Unit 2 members were also involved in bargaining a new contract (see page 3), solidarity activities (page 2), and many social events.


8. About this newsletter

The CUPE 3908 Dispatch will be published on a monthly basis througout the academic year. We welcome contributions from any member of the Local, including especially features (max. 600 words) and member profiles (max. 400 words). Submissions should be sent, by the 5th of the month, to


9. Stewards

Want to be a voice for workers in your department - become a CUPE Steward! email:


10. Bylaw Revision Meeting
Come learn about and vote on revisions to the Local’s bylaws. Refreshements provided.
Tuesday January 24, 7-9pm
CUPE Regional Office, (Sherbrooke and George).


11. CUPE 3908 Executive, 2011-2012

President: Stephen Horner. Stephen works in the Business Department and has been the Local’s President since 2010.
General VP: Diane Therrien. Diane is a recent graduate of the Frost Centre MA program and is a dedicated social justice activist. She works as a tutorial leader in the Canadian Studies Department.
Treasurer: Aimee Blyth. Aimee works in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department and is the co-ordinator for the Seasoned Spoon.
Communications: Andy Cragg. Andy works as a TA in the Politics Department and as a grader in the Philosophy Department. He blogs at
VP Unit 1: Dave Tough. A fixture of the local music scene, Dave is also a TA and sessional instructor in the Politics Department.
Vp Unit 2: Julia Smith. Julia work is a PhD student in Canadian Studies and works in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.
Chief Steward Unit 1: Vacant. Let us know if you’re interested!
Chief Steward Unit 2: Sean Carleton. Sean is a PhD student in Canadian Studies and works in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.

Last modified: 23-Feb-13