Non-student researchers, post-doctoral fellows at University of Regina unionize

Around 70 people are now represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Around 70 people are involved

Around 70 people at the U of R are now represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). (CBC)

Around 70 post-doctoral fellows and non-student researchers are now unionized with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) after an organizing drive that began at the beginning of the year. 

Eighty-eight per cent of the workers voted in favour of unionizing. 

According to a release from CUPE, the workers want parental leave, better pay with standardized pay increments, workplace representation and health benefits.

Sometimes there's a lot of fear involved that there could be repercussions in different ways, so the lead organizers were absolutely elated when they heard the news.- Andrew Loewen, lead organizer at CUPE

There were a few incidents that spurred the workers into organizing, said Andrew Loewen, lead organizer at CUPE.

"In recent years, there has been an increase in contract work in the university sector and in often fairly low-paying, unstable contract work," Loewen said. 

Loewen said that post-doctoral fellows often have PhDs but are "forced to scour the world applying for jobs for one-year, two-year, three-year [contracts]."

There was also an incident where a person was having trouble getting accommodation for a back problem in their workspace.  

According to Loewen, the workers were "ecstatic" when the final count came in. 

"It takes a lot of work and effort to organize a workplace. Sometimes there's a lot of fear involved that there could be repercussions in different ways, so the lead organizers were absolutely elated when they heard the news."

Now that the workers have voted, they will elect a bargaining committee and then bargain with the university to author their collective agreement. 

About the Author

Emily Pasiuk

Emily Pasiuk is a reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatchewan and an associate producer for The Morning Edition. She has also reported at CTV Saskatoon and written for Global Regina. Reach her at emily.pasiuk@cbc.ca.