Hello, GES members! As you recall, last week during orientation one of our speakers was Jaime Brenes Reyes, our Chief Steward of Arts & Humanities for the coming year. Jaime was presenting on behalf of PSAC Local 610, the union that represents all Teaching Assistants and Postdoctoral Fellows here at Western. The information you receive during orientation week can be pretty overwhelming, and Jaime only had fifteen or so minutes to introduce the union and what it does. Because of this, I thought it might be helpful to hold an FAQ/information session near the beginning of the term. The goals of the session are:
- to familiarize you with the most important details of your TA contract (the Collective Agreement);
- to give you a better idea of what steps to take if you encounter a difficulty or problem over the course of your teaching assistantship;
- and finally, to give you an opportunity to ask more detailed and focused questions now that you’ve actually begun to TA, and have had a chance to look at your contracts and supporting documentation.
As the Lead Graduate Teaching Assistant for this year, Kevin Shaw will be holding a variety of workshops to develop skills for the actual day-to-day business of being a TA, holding office hours, managing tutorials, grading, and professionalization. However, this workshop has more to do with understanding the terms of your employment (your contract) and provide you with the information you need if you have question or issues throughout the year with your rights and responsibilities as a TA. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you be informed about your rights and responsibilities as a TA, and that you know who to talk to and what steps to take if an issue arises.
The workshop will be held on Friday, September 19th from 10:00am-11:30am in Room 2R21 of the Arts and Humanities Building (the building in which you can also find Leanne’s office, if you are still getting used to campus). I’ll be hosting the workshop. I’ll be serving as one of your three Departmental Stewards this year, served as Chief Steward of Arts & Humanities last year and as Departmental Steward the year before that, so I’ve had a lot of experience answering questions and handling issues from the very small to the very serious and will be equipped to answer any questions you may have.
I’ve listed a few resources here that will come in handy over the course of the year and may help you pinpoint some questions for the workshop beforehand. One of these (the TA Handbook) you have a paper copy of, but in the event that this handbook gets lost in the shuffle it’s always handy to have a digital copy. The resources can all be found at the following link: http://www.psac610.ca/index.php/documents-forms
- Graduate Teaching Assistant Collective Agreement (the detailed contract under which you are employed as a Teaching Assistant, and which outlines the terms and conditions of your employment here at Western)
- Graduate Teaching Assistant Handbook (digital copy)
- Hours Log Sheet (a useful tool for keeping track of your TA hours every week, which is a crucial part of preventing overwork and ensuring that you are working within the terms of your contract)
If you have any questions or concerns about the information session, get in touch with me via email. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you at the workshop!
All the best,