PSAC members at Brandon University prepare for bargaining

On October 22, 2012, the Manitoba Labour Board certified PSAC as the bargaining agent for all research assistants and student assistants employed at Brandon University. Local 55601 comprises nearly 400 members employed annually by the university.

At their first general meeting on December 3, 2012, members elected the bargaining team and executive for PSAC Local 55601. Corey DeGagné, a Brandon University student who was involved in the organizing drive, was elected Local President.

“The whole experience has been amazing. I love it,” he says. “It’s been great working along side my fellow executive members; they’re making the experience that much more enjoyable. It feels like a close-knit family already.”

DeGagné has worked as a lab assistant, marker and tutor on campus and looks forward to bargaining the Local’s first collective agreement.

“By securing a collective agreement, we can take some pressure off our individual members. They can feel more confident and secure in the work they do.”

Before negotiations begin, executive members will participate in local development sessions next week to equip them with the tools and resources required to organize and administer the Local and effectively represent the needs of student workers.

“For the Local to function effectively, it’s important the Local officers work together as a team,” explains Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC Prairie Region. “Local development will bring the executive together to set priorities, plan activities and work out a plan of action to move ahead.”

The latest organizing victory reaffirms the Public Service Alliance of Canada is a serious player in the university sector, with members in more than 20 post secondary institutions across Canada.

Last year, nearly 200 research assistants, senior research assistants, and research associates joined PSAC Local 55600 at the University of Winnipeg, already representing nearly 400 teaching assistants, lab demonstrators, markers, tutors and English language program instructors.

Brandon University is the seventh new bargaining unit certified in the PSAC Prairie Region in the last two years and the third Directly Chartered Local.