Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teaching Assistants do not 'work'

Apparently, graduate teaching assistantships are not jobs. They are not "positions". They are developmental opportunities that have been created to benefit the learning experiences of graduate students in the university. So, I guess instead of trying to get a collective agreement, we should be bowing down and kissing their feet for giving us the opportunity to develop skills.

I'm trying to think about just what the implications would be of not being considered an employee... I'm pretty sure they aren't good... Any thoughts?

On another note, I really don't like being too busy to get into detailed posting... I can't wait until things slow down next week!


  1. Then I suppose the University doesn't value international students enough to grant them access to this 'developmental educational opportunity'.

    Perhaps if grad students were to decide to turn-down this 'opportunity' en masse for a year I wonder who would be worse off the students or the university.

  2. If grad students turn down this opportunity, they would likely starve for the year, but I think it might be the profs who would be the worse off... and students.

    Although strike action would be conceivably possible, and would basically be turning down the opportunity en masse...

    I think my biggest concern are the consequences if GTAs, profs, students, and admin see the work we do as a developmental opportunity as opposed to work... last time I graded 50 multiple choice exams, it didn't feel like I was developing any real skills, that's for sure.

  3. universities position would be that multiple choice exams are supposed to be marked by a computer now... unlike the soci profs, i dont think the uni really cares that a computer cant read comments. just saying you might want to pick a better task then that when your arguing with the university :)

  4. The University would like to hold on to the idea of the indentured apprentice, I think. GTA positions *should* be opportunities for learning and developing skills. We can acknowledge that without accepting that these aren't jobs. If the employer puts that argument out there, smile and propose some language in the collective agreement that would ensure that all the work you do would meet learning objectives agreed to by the worker at the start of the contract. And then go back to talking about decent wages and working conditions...

  5. Or, you can have a Collective Agreement that the department ignores until the student and union force the department to honour after a protracted fight.

  6. Unfortunately, that is a common occurrence in a lot of departments. But the fight is usually worth it! I am lucky enough to work in a department where we don't really have to worry about this kind of stuff (part of the benefit of the overlap between the sociology and labour studies departments, i think).