1. What is CUPE 3912?

CUPE 3912 (Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3912) is a trade union representing 5000+ precarious academic workers in four bargaining units at Dalhousie University, Mount Saint Vincent University, and Saint Mary’s University.

We negotiate Collective Agreements through bargaining, and protect members’ rights through Grievances.

2. What is a collective agreement?

Collective Agreements, negotiated by CUPE 3912 with the Employers,  contain contractual language governing our work, such as our salary (wages), paid sick leave and vacation pay, benefits, and workplace conditions.

3. What is a grievance?

A grievance is a formal way to seek redress when the Employer violates our rights under the collective agreements or applicable legislation. If you feel that the Employer violated your rights, please contact your VP as soon as possible.

4. What is bargaining?

Bargaining is the negotiation process between CUPE 3912 and an employer to reach a collective agreement. We negotiate separate Collective Agreements with each of the three universities employing us. Bargaining involves our respective Negotiating Committees, elected by the general membership, meeting with the Employers’ negotiating team.

If an Employer does not agree to our demands, we may have to resort to job actions as part of bargaining. For more information, see our Strike FAQ page.

5. What is precedence?

Precedence is a form of seniority, determining hiring when multiple members apply for the same position. If two individuals with equal qualifications apply for the same job, the member with the most precedence at the hiring institution must be awarded the contract.

The deadlines for correcting errors in the precedence lists are quite restricted. Please check your collective agreements for dates and deadlines. For more information, see our Precedence page.

6. Am I a member of CUPE 3912?

You are a CUPE 3912 member if you currently are or in the past 36 months were:

  • a part-time faculty at Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s and Mount Saint Vincent Universities, including clinical instructors and lab demonstrators;
  • a teaching assistant or a marker/demonstrator at Dalhousie University; or
  • an instructor at The Language Centre at Saint Mary’s University.

7. How does CUPE 3912 differ from DAGS?

While the memberships substantially overlap, CUPE 3912 represents members in employment-related matters (e.g., wages, working hours, and working conditions),  Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students (DAGS) represents graduate students in academic and student-life matters.

Before filing a grievance, we attempt to resolve matters informally. If after filing a grievance, the matter remains unresolved, the Executive Board may refer the grievance to binding arbitration. For more information, see our Grievances page.

8. How do I get involved with CUPE 3912?

9. How do I become an Executive Board member?

Executive Board members are nominated and elected by the general membership at a meeting. Elections are by a secret ballot. Elections are normally held at the Annual General Membership meetings in April each year; however, if a position becomes vacant, by-elections may also be held at a Special Membership Meeting.

10. Why did we unionize?

The need for a union of part-time faculty and teaching assistants in Halifax universities was long obvious. We were paid at best a third of the wages full-time faculty received for the same work, and had no benefits and no job security. The supposed justification of these conditions, that this was merely a temporary “apprenticeship” stage in an academic career, had worn thin.

While precarious workers often received sympathy from tenured faculty, this resulted in no action by the full-time faculty unions that could have made any real difference to conditions. The need for a separate union became apparent. Active efforts to create the present union began in 1991 at Dalhousie University.

There are, however, considerable difficulties in establishing a union of employees hired on short term contracts, because of the rapid turnover involved. The struggle for improved working conditions for our members continues to this day.

For more information, see our History page.

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