CUPE Local 3908
(705) 775-CUPE (775-2873)

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Click here to download the .pdf version of the CUPE Dispatch: front/back, inside.


  1. Fairness in hiring practices for grad students beyond funding period
  2. Social events
  3. José Miguel Garcia Ramirez, Tom Hutchinson and Evan Senkiw win Trent University
    teaching awards
  4. CUPE 3908 supports numerous local and regional causes
  5. Unit 1 members travel far afield with support of PDEA Fund
  6. Bylaw Amendment Meeting Set for Monday April 30
  7. Profile of Stephen Horner, President of CUPE 3908 
  8. Local 3908 Members learn about women’s empowerment and communications strategies at CUPE spring school.
  9. Unit 2 Professional Development Fund
  10. Ontario University Workers Co-ordinating Committee Convention brings together workers from across university sector
  11. 3908 Looking for General Vice President
  12. From your Collective Agreements...Unit 1 - Course design stipend; Unit 2 - What position will you get next year?
  13. Unit 2 - Stewards Network
  14. CUPE 3908 Executive, 2011-2012




1. Fairness in hiring practices for grad students beyond funding period

           -by Stephen Horner, President CUPE3908

Can grad students continue to work as Teaching Assistants after their funding period ends? For the short answer, jump down to the second-last paragraph. If you want the backstory, read on...

Offers of Admission tell graduate students how many years a TAship will last—usually 2 years for Master's and 4 for Doctoral students. In a perfect world, these figures would correspond exactly to the length of time it takes to complete a degree. According to StatsCan numbers from 2003, the real world runs at least 43% slower: average PhD completion time was 5 years and 9 months. Social Science PhDs took a year longer than that.

Trent's Administration, however, balks at paying grad students the TA rate to continue doing the same work once that funding period ends. Traditionally (largely due to Trent's history as a primarily undergrad school), departments whose demand for TAs exceeded the supply of funded grad students have hired 'Tutorial Leaders’ (TLs)--members of CUPE3908 Unit 1. The salary for Unit 1 TLs is not the same as the TA rate. It varies based on the number of students and contact hours. While lower than the TA rate, it is considerably higher than the Academic Assistant (AA) rate ($17/hr). Until a grievance was filed in 2009, the University argued that post-funding grad students who continued to work as TAs should be paid the AA rate.

As part of the resolution of that grievance, the Union and the Employer agreed that students are eligible to apply for Unit 1 Tutorial Leader positions. Where there is competition for these positions between members of different bargaining units, the hiring priority is as follows: First, qualifications—the most qualified applicant can be appointed, regardless of bargaining unit status. If the qualifications are close to equal, a member of Unit 1 is given priority. Unit 2 members are next, ahead of external applicants.

Finally, the Dean of Graduate Studies is consulted prior to a student being appointed, the principle concern being that the academic calendar prescribes a limit of 10 hours of work per week for graduate students. In practice it is rare for the Dean to say no to such an appointment. However, it is possible. Thoughtful regard for your best interests, or misguided paternalism? Your call...Unit 1 Positions, including Tutorial Leader positions, are posted on the Dean of Arts and Science's website, at              


2. Social events

We had another fun month of social events, thanks to the planning and organization of our Social Events Committee.

March saw our usual pub night happen at the Trend, Traill College. With discounted pints and lots of comfy seating, members chatted and played games until the late hours.
We also had our first CUPE Game Afternoon at Dreams of Beans Cafe. On a cloudy Sunday afternoon, members and their families gathered to enjoy hot chocolate, play board games, and hope to win one of the gift certificates CUPE 3908 was raffling off! Apples to Apples, DiXit, and Spot It! were the crowd favourites, and everyone had a great time. CUPE will be planning more family-friendly events in the coming months, so keep an eye out for emails from CUPE Communications!

The Social Events Committee is always looking for new members and ideas, so if you are interested in getting involved, please contact Julia Smith at The next meeting of the Committee will be at 1:00pm on Monday, May 7 in the Stewart House meeting room (Traill College).


Pool Night - Wednesday April 11.
   @ Riley's (253 George Street North): 7:30pm-  
   9:30pm. Free pool and appetizers!

Pub Night - Thursday April 26.
   @ the Olde Stone: 7:30pm-9:30pm. Come out
   and celebrate the end of the winter semester!
By-Law Amendment Meeting Monday April 30
   @The Seasoned Spoon, Champlain College:
   5pm-7pm. See page three for more information.


3. José Miguel Garcia Ramirez, Tom Hutchinson and Evan Senkiw win Trent University teaching awards

Each year Trent gives out two awards for excellence in teaching to CUPE members, one to a Unit 1 member, the CUPE 3908 Award for Excellence in Teaching, and one to a Unit 2 member, the Trent University Award for
Excellence in Teaching Assistance. In addition, this year Tom Hutchinson, a proud Unit 1 member, was recognized for his years of dedicated and innovative teaching and was awarded the University’s highest teaching award, the Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching.

José’s nominators describe the sense of community he created in his class, his willingness to help students at every level of learning to succeed, and his innovative approach to teaching. The committee for this award also acknowledged the teaching of Mark Dickinson and Megan Regts, both of whom had a large number of strong nominations from students.








Given that Trent’s origins include deep community and rural roots, Tom Hutchinson is a natural fit, and is indeed a leading figure in local food and agriculture communities. A much loved teacher by hundreds of students over the years, his winning of the Symons Award is truly deserved.







On his experience teaching Political Studies, Evan remarked, “I am reminded each time I step into the classroom that despite being of, and teaching, a generation of students that are all too often accosted for what may seem to be political apathy – after all, by and large we don’t vote – that this is simply not the case, and we are, as a generation, very politically interested, involved, and active.”






4. CUPE 3908 supports numerous local and regional causes

Every year, members of CUPE 3908 set aside $5000 for donations to numerous community and social justice causes. Requests for donations are assessed by the executive committee, taking in mind our donations policy (which can be found on the website). In the last few months we have been able to support numerous causes, including the following:

  •     ReFrame film festival ($300)
  •     United Way Peterborough ($500)
  •     The Seasoned Spoon panel discussion on the Canadian Wheat Board ($200)
  •     Ontario Coalition Against Poverty ($300)
  •     SAACID, an organization supporting draught relief for women in Somalia ($400)
  •     OPIRG’s Peace Week ($200)


5. Unit 1 members travel far afield with support of PDEA Fund

One of the best jobs a person can have is giving out awards. Although the glamour doesn’t compare to the Oscars, we recently had the great pleasure of awarding the Winter 2012 round of the Unit One Professional Development and Employee Assistance (PDEA) Fund to 19 eligible members who applied.
CUPE members certainly showed themselves to be active in their academic pursuits, attending conferences as far afield as Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, England, Peru, the Cayman Islands and throughout the United States and Canada.

In all this round, members applied for $25,434.52 of which $18,144.24 was eligible. The total amount we had available to award was $7,666.67, so each person received just over 42% of the amount they applied for. Our total amount for year 2011-12 was $23,000.00, distributed equally over three rounds. Next year our total increases to $28,000.00, thanks to the success of the negotiating team in the last round of collective bargaining.
Summer 2012 is the next round of the Unit One PD Fund. Members working 100 hours or more over the Fall 2011 term, the Winter 2012 term or the Summer 2012 term can apply. And, you can apply for funding for costs you incurred anytime between February 15th, 2012 and January  15th, 2013 – i.e. up to six months before or after the deadline date. The deadline for applications is July 15th, 2012. More information and the downloadable forms are available on our webstie at


6. Bylaw Amendment Meeting Set for Monday April 30

 Our year-long process of amending the Local's bylaws is coming to a conclusion. A meeting to discuss and vote on proposed bylaw changes will be held on Monday April 30th from 5pm onwards at the Seasoned Spoon at Champlain College, Symons Campus. Food and drink will be provided. The proposed changes will affect the salary of the Local's president, compensation for stewards, quorum at meetings, and electronic voting. Some of the changes will have a significant effect on the Local's operations. An overview and explanation of all of the proposed changes a can be found on our website, as can the complete wording of proposed changes. Please plan to attend the meeting on the 30th and please come having read over these documents.


7. Profile of Stephen Horner, President of CUPE 3908 

If there’s such a thing as a stereotypical union president, Stephen Horner doesn’t fit the mould. For starters, he teaches in Trent’s Business Administration department. He’s also a mild-mannered and thoughtful guy, more inclined to work in the background than deliver rabble-rousing speeches. But for the past two years, Stephen has been the leader and spokesperson for Trent’s 500+ contract academic workers, representing the membership of Local 3908 on various committees at Trent and beyond, guiding members through a number of grievances, responding to members’ enquiries, and playing a major role in bargaining new contracts for both units.

Relatively new to the union movement, Stephen joined the leadership of the Local in 2008 after becoming frustrated by the rate of compensation for contract instructors. Now he loves being involved in the Local, and particularly the opportunity to work in a collaborative environment with the other members of the executive committee.  Speaking about what motivates him most, he says, “I value so highly working with people who care about the issues that contract faculty and student academic workers face, and people who bring creativity, humour, energy and passion to their approach to finding ways to make things better for working people.”

Besides the time Stephen spends teaching and fulfilling his duties as president, he also spends as much time as he can with his two young kids, and also enjoys renovating his house and as of recently training for a triathlon.


8. Local 3908 Members learn about women’s empowerment and communications strategies at CUPE spring school.

CUPE Ontario organizes and provides the opportunity for locals from across the province to participate in a variety of workshops, including informative seminars on pensions, WSIB, labour law, and stopping harassment in the workplace.

Diane Therrien participated in a 2 day workshop entitled “Women Speaking Up”. For Diane, the workshop was “a powerful and valuable experience,” which brought women from various backgrounds and sectors together to discuss a variety of issues, including the role of race, class, and gender in the workplace. The workshop “was an opportunity for me to hear about the experiences of women working in health care, maintenance, and engineering sectors, among others.”

Andy Cragg enrolled in CUPE’s 5-day “Communicating CUPE” course, which presented a wide range of strategies for acheiving more effective communications with union members, other supporters, the general public, and politicians. For Andy, “the course really presented me with a toolkit of concrete tips for refining my work as 3908’s communciations person.” Specific sessions during the course included creating and editing newsletters, designing promotional material, and using social media tools.

Besides its educational focus, the CUPE school included many chances to meet and socialize with people from locals across the province.


9. Unit 2 Professional Development Fund

Please allow 2-3 months for applications to the March 15 round of the PDEA Fund to be processed and cheques to be mailed out. Unit 2 Vice-President Julia Smith will contact members when their cheques have been sent. In the meantime, members can email her if they have questions about their application:


10. Ontario University Workers Co-ordinating Committee Convention brings together workers from across university sector

The Ontario University Worker's Coordinating Committee (OUWCC) met in London, Ontario in February to discuss important issues facing the post-secondary sector. The most prominent issue was the Drummond Report and its implications for the provincial budget. Over fifty delegates from across the province participated in the conference, listening to talks, drafting resolutions for the CUPE Ontario convention, and formulating action plans for the coming months. Discussions included ways to respond to the Drummond Report, ideas for coalition building among different locals on campus, and how to communicate our concerns to the general public. Stephen Horner was again chosen as the campus representative for Trent and will continue his work on the OUWCC finance committee,  and Diane Therrien was elected to serve on the executive committee of OUWCC as the Employment Equity representative. For more detailed information about the conference proceedings and educational materials, check CUPE Ontario's website here:


11. 3908 Looking for General Vice President

Are you interested in joining the executive committee of Local 3908? Diane Therrien has moved into the position of Unit 1 Chief Steward, leaving the position of General Vice President vacant. To express interest in the position or to learn more about it please contact us at


12. From your Collective Agreements...

Unit 1 - Course design stipend;

CUPE members bring a range of expertise to their departments, and in some cases we are asked to design new courses. This is, of course, a considerable amount of work. According to the Collective Agreement, we are entitled to be compensated for this. However, there are some conditions: the Dean must first approve the project, and the course must ultimately be approved by the University. The course design stipend is $843, a figure that has not changed since 2007. This is something for the next round of bargaining in 2013.

Unit 2 - What position will you get next year?

Whether you want to keep the same GTA position next year or you want to try another course, your new Collective Agreement gives you some say in your next assignment. The hiring process is outlined on pages 29 and 30 Article 18. What happens, in brief, is that on August 1st a list of course in which GTAs may be required will be posted on the Mylearning system. You will have the opportunity to state your preference of position to a designated contact person (TBD) by August 15th. At this point the hiring procedure will be followed as it is laid out in the Collective Agreement:
"The Employer will first assign those qualified applicants previously employed as GTAs. Where two or more qualified applicants have expressed a preference for the same work assignment, the applicant having greater prior experience of the same assignment will have priority. Where two or more qualified applicants with equal experience of the same work assignment express a preference for that work assignment, the Employer will appoint the most appropriate applicant." If you do not receive your preferred choice, you can request a meeting with the Chair of the hiring department so that they can explain the hiring process. If they did not follow the process outline above, you may be qualified to file a grievance and may be able to win the right to teach in your course of preference.


13. Unit 2 - Stewards Network

Stewards play an important role in unions, helping represent to the Local’s elected leadership the views of members, and also to keep members informed about the activities of the union. At Trent stewards are generally organised by department, with one steward volunteering to represent members in each employing department. Being a steward is a great way to learn more about how unions work. If you have any problems with or questions about your work, feel free to contact your friendly Unit 2 Steward!

If you would like to become a Steward or are in an employing department without a Steward and you have a question, you can contact the Unit 2 Chief Steward, Sean Carleton, at

Unit 2 Stewards:

Anthropology: triciaanne.morris[at]
Biology: VACANT
Business Administration: VACANT
Canadian Studies: VACANT
Chemistry: VACANT
Cultural Studies: laura.post100[at], tracytidgwell[at]
Economics: ryankwan[at]
English: autumn.corvus[at]
Environmental Resource Sciences: VACANT
Forensic Sciences: VACANT
Geography: VACANT
History: a.n.samoil[at],
Material Sciences: VACANT
Physics and Astronomy: VACANT
Politics: VACANT
Psychology: nick.fauset[at]
Women’s Studies: karolyn.martin[at],


14. CUPE 3908 Executive, 2011-2012

President: Stephen Horner. Stephen works in the Business Department and has been the Local’s President since 2010.
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 is a PhD student in Canadian Studies and works in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.
Chief Steward Unit 1: Diane Therrien. Diane is a recent graduate of the Frost Centre MA program. She works as a tutorial leader in the Canadian Studies and Sociology Departments.
Chief Steward Unit 2: Sean Carleton. Sean is a PhD student in Canadian Studies and has worked in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.


Last modified: 23-Feb-13