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As Postdoctoral Researchers we make an immense contribution at Dalhousie. Unfortunately, our contribution is not well recognized: our benefits package does not compare well, some postdocs are not well paid, we have little security, and absolutely no ability to negotiate the conditions of our workplaces. These are the very benefits that faculty, teaching assistants, research assistants and a growing number of postdocs across Canada have won through collective bargaining. 

 

8 Reasons Why a Union is important:

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For Better Medical and Dental Benefits

Currently, postdoctoral researchers at Dalhousie have to pay 50% of the costs for sub-par medical coverage and 100% of the costs for dental coverage. When compared with other plans, both on campus and at other universities, our plan does not stack-up. We work hard, put in long hours, and we should be provided with full medical and dental coverage. Our plans should included coverage for prescription eye-wear, and paramedical services.  And our families should be covered too. In a union, we can set benefits as a priority and negotiate for a better deal.

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For Job Security and Control over Working Conditions

Before, postdocs at Dalhousie had no power to negotiate their working conditions - we were at the mercy of our supervisors/PIs. While most supervisors and PIs are amazing to work for and with, some are less so. When our working conditions become difficult or even toxic, we had no means of recourse. There was no grievance procedure that allowed us to object to deplorable conditions without becoming a potential target. The new collective agreement provided us with a confidential and safe means via which to raise workplace issues in a constructive way. Within a formal framework, everyone's expectations can now be clarified and set. This makes for a more enjoyable and comfortable working environment.

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For Reasonable Base Pay

Some postdocs at Dalhousie are very well paid, and some are not. By working together we can establish fair and reasonable minimum standards for remuneration, without imposing any kind of a ceiling on what some of us can make.

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For Academic Freedom

Unless we have a formal contract that guarantees us academic freedom, we do not have it - university policies are not enforceable.  In other words, it simply does not matter what the university says is its policy around academic freedom, there is absolutely nothing to stop the university from changing its policy, without notice, or from deciding to use a definition of 'academic freedom' that is entirely different from our own.  We now have a contract that provides for a clear definition of academic freedom and which guarantees that all postdocs as Dalhousie are provided with such. 

To Secure our Rights to Intellectual Property

Not sure who owns your research? If you are sure, are you satisfied? If your rights are violated, what will you do? By joining a union, we are now able to negotiate for clear and binding policies. And if anyone violates our rights, we have access to a grievance procedure and free legal assistance!

To Access the Services and Supports we Need

In addition to free legal and bargaining support, being a signed member of the Public Service Alliance of Canada has many benefits. From reduced rates on things like car insurance and cell phones, the benefits of membership extend far beyond the benefits that come from having a strong and clear contract

Because Best Practices are Wise to Follow

There is a reason why higher education is the most unionized sector in Canada - academic workers understand the importance and necessity of collective bargaining and the security that unionization brings.  Right across the country, full- and part-time faculty, teaching assistants, research assistants, have long-since unionized.  And an increasing number of postdoctoral researchers are now choosing to do the same.  Why? Because even a cursory examination makes clear that unionization protects and benefits academic workers. 

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Because the Public Service Alliance of Canada has lots of Experience with Postdocs

At Queens University, Western University, and Memorial University postdoctoral researchers all decided to unionize with the Public Service Alliance of Canada.  This means that their organizers, their researchers, and their negotiators are familiar with the type of work that we do, the working conditions we face, and the kind of agreement we will be looking to negotiate. It just makes sense to have experienced people working on our side.