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Graduate Labour Union opens office in MacEwan Hall after conflict with the university 

By Nazeefa Ahmed, December 16 2023—

On Nov. 24, the Graduate Labour Union (GLU) opened their office in MacEwan Hall. The new office space will be a central hub for activism on campus.

“The GLU represents, supports, and educates Academically Employed Graduate Students at the University of Calgary. This includes but is not limited to collective agreement negotiations, the handling of disputes with employers, and advocating for a high standard of graduate student employment,” reads a statement from the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) website.

Photo by Daman Singh

In an interview with the Gauntlet, GLU chair Hunter Yaworski describes how the organization aims to use the new office space to increase its presence on campus as well as build community for graduate students.   

“This is going to be the focal point for our organizing and mobilizing around collective bargaining, a place where we can do workshops for students and education for our members and also a space for us to meet with students when they have concerns and grievances regarding their workplace. It’s also a place for us to hang out and interact with each other, build solidarity and community.”

Yaworski mentioned that there was a conflict with the U of C when trying to establish this office space. 

“We are emboldened by getting this space. It was a very very long process to get this office space. The University of Calgary definitely tried to interfere at least a little bit but it all got cleared up and we are happy to be here.”

In a statement to the Gauntlet, the U of C stated that the tendency was approved. 

“The university approved the GLU’s tenancy,” read the statement. 

Yaworski describes the key differences between the GSA and the GLU. The GSA serves all graduate students and not specifically graduate student workers. The GLU supports working graduate students such as research or teaching assistants as well as students undergraduate assistantships for non-teaching (GANTS).

“The provincial government legislates that graduate student workers are unionized under their Graduate Students’ Associations in the province of Alberta,” said Yaworski. “The legislation that does this is unique to the province and doesn’t really exist anywhere else. So the [GLU] has to be unionized under the GSA.” 

“We technically exist under the GSA but function almost entirely independently and solely operate on the interests of graduate student workers,” Yaworski continued. 

The GLU will be going into mediation with the U of C, pending an essential service exemption which is expected to come in December of this year. Bargaining team member Kaylee MacLean describes the importance of the office opening in the current mediation timeline. 

“This opening is happening at an exciting time in the bargaining process, where we are going to be ramping up our communications and really connecting with all of our members as we get ready to keep putting the pressure and keep putting the work into getting a good deal for our members,” said MacLean

Yaworski mentioned what the GLU hopes to achieve at the end of the bargaining period. 

“We want our students to be visible on campus so that they know that we are fighting for the best deal possible for them,” stated Yaworski. 

More information about the GLU can be found on the GSA website.

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