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Tentative deal reached with union representing striking TAs, Western says

It comes two weeks to the day since the teaching assistants, members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Local 610, went on strike on April 11.

Details of the tentative deal, which still requires ratification, have not been released

Striking teaching assistants have set up information pickets at the entrances to Western University.
Striking teaching assistants have set up informetion tickets at the entrances to Western University. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

A tentative deal has been reached between Western University and the union representing about 2,000 striking graduate teaching assistants at the school, Western announced Thursday.

It comes two weeks after the teaching assistants, members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Local 610, went on strike on April 11.

Details of the tentative deal have not been released, and it still needs to be ratified by union members and the university's board of governors. Talks for a new contract have been underway since late October.

Requests for comment to PSAC Local 610 and Western University were not returned by publishing time. This story will be updated when a response is received. 

However, the union wrote in an Instagram post Thursday that it will hold the picket line until the deal is ratified following voting sessions in the next few days.

The union rejected a previous offer from the university on Sunday, which included hourly wage increases of two to three per cent over four years, according to Western. 

On their most recent contract, which ended on Aug. 31, 2023, GTAs were paid $47.22 per hour, but could only work ten hours per week.

A sticking point in the talks, according to the union, has been the use of so-called "clawback" language.

Speaking with CBC News earlier this week, Pardis Baha, PSAC 610's president, said clawbacks would allow Western to pay GTAs less for their hourly work if they earned money as part of their TA work from another source.

In a bargaining update on Tuesday, Western said language about clawbacks had been addressed in its last offer from April 21 to assure PSAC 610 members that "any raises or additional hours TAs get, they keep."

"The University will not 'claw this back' by giving TAs less funding from other sources," the update read.

It also argued that the impasse in talks was the result of the union wanting to "negotiate terms that are not part of this employment agreement" — namely broader graduate student funding packages. 

Western says about 30 per cent of graduate students are GTAs who help professors with various duties, including grading assignments and tests, preparing materials for classes, proctoring exams, and conducting field trips.

With files from Andrew Lupton