Myth: If we unionize, we give up control.
Fact: We set priorities, we have more control.
union membership elects its own representatives to a bargaining team,
which negotiates collective agreements with the University. The
PSAC provides support and legal expertise for the bargaining process,
but not determine what should and should not be part of any agreement.
You and your colleagues (i.e., all of the PDFs at Dalhousie) have a
chance to vote on any contract that is negotiated. Keep in mind that
across the country when postdocs have unionized, they were able to
negotiate a collective agreement that has improved their working and
MYTH: PDFs who have negotiated better
than average salaries and benefits packages would see their salaries and
benefits packaged lowered.
FACT: Your collective agreement set baseline levels, not limit your freedom to do better.
are not precluded from negotiating individual arrangements with your
supervisors/PI. Instead, by unionizing and negotiating a collective
agreement, you work to improve minimum salary and working conditions,
and to thereby set baseline conditions for every postdoc. Postdocs are
still free to make individual arrangements with their supervisors as
long as those arrangements do not directly contradict the collective
agreement we negotiated with the university.
This situation is
similar to faculty members, who bargain collectively with the Dalhousie
University to establish base salaries, benefits, and leaves, but also
have the freedom to individually negotiate the terms of their
MYTH: Having to pay union dues will hurt your bottom-line.
FACT: Union dues are tax deductible, and are more than off-set by improvements to your contract.
dues rates for all PSAC members is 1.6% of gross monthly income, and
union dues are 100% tax deductible. Dues are voted on by the
entire membership. As with every other aspect of the unionization
process, postdocs get a say in how dues work. It is not something
imposed upon us.
Note that dues were not collected until our
first contract was negotiated and then approved (ratified) by secret
ballot by postdoctoral fellows.
Dues support legal, educational,
organizing, negotiating and other representational services.
Members decide on how dues are spent by voting on the union’s
budget. This ensures that the money collected through union dues
is spent according to our priorities.
It is important to know
that PSAC has NEVER signed a collective agreement that has put its
members worse off financially after paying dues.
MYTH: Because the nature of your
relationship with the University would change to being an employee,
there would be deductions directly from your stipend for income tax,
CPP, and EI priorities.
FACT: Unionization does not suddenly change how postdoc income is categorized, or what deductions are taken from our paychecks.
MYTH: If you an international postdoctoral fellow, you are not eligible to join a union.
FACT: Any postdoctoral researcher is eligible to join a union.
you are from Canada, or working in Canada under a visa, you have the
same right to join a union. In other words, if you are a post doctoral
researcher at Dalhousie, you are an employee of Dalhousie, and are
eligible to join a union. Your status in Canada will not be
affected. And remember, your privacy is protected - no one but the union
and the Labour Review Board knows your identity.
MYTH: University policies dealing with Academic Freedom, Intellectual Property already protect us.
FACT: Before, we had no enforceable rights.
we have specific contractual provisions providing for academic freedom,
rights to intellectual property etc., we have no enforceable rights and
are subject to any changes in policy, regardless of how arbitrary they
MYTH: A Union will create tension.
FACT: Relations have improved along with working conditions
the University initially opposed our decision to organize into a union
(together with some of our supervisors/PIs), organizing allowed us
to clarify issues and relationships that were not properly
defined, and outline appropriate forms of interaction. By
unionizing we ease tensions while protecting ourselves against unfair