Executive Committee Nominations 2020

Nominations

2020 Executive Committee Officers Elections

Thursday, October 29th at 4 :00pm

Please note, members of PSAC Local 901 may run for Executive Committee positions from the floor at the Annual General Meeting on Thursday, October 29th.


President Nominations

Name: Rohit Revi

Department: Cultural Studies Graduate Program

Employment Position: Teaching Assistant, Teaching Fellow

Description:

In 2019-2020, I worked as the Equity Officer for 901. In this capacity, I have tried to strengthen the presence of migrant members within our local and increase our capacity for social and environmental justice actions in campus and in the broader community. During this period, I have also shared numerous responsibilities with other executive positions. I have worked with the Health and Safety Officer in her fight for accessible fire evacuation plans at Queen’s and have played a supporting role to the Chief Steward in a few of the ongoing grievances. I have also managed the local’s social media pages, occasionally.

If elected president, I will foremost try to facilitate a smooth transition for the local, and make sure that the incoming executive members are equipped to build on each of the positions, going into the new term.

In summer, we were able to win significant benefits by negotiating for CA Variations. I would like to make sure that the benefits that we won through these negotiations are availed and administered properly in an accessible manner.

These are very uncertain times for academic workers. In the shift to remote learning, we have witnessed some harmful employer actions: especially, the decision to not employ migrant members residing outside Canada. We need to continue to ensure that contract security is upheld through this uncertainty. I will focus on the ongoing grievances, and make sure that any such concerns from members continue to be addressed or escalated effectively.

We are also seeing on Queen’s campus a renewed and growing movement for racial justice and equity. We were able to contribute to this growth last year, in various forms, including our report calling for the denaming of Sir John A Hall. On this front, I will ensure that the activists and members who participate in our Social Justice and Political Action Committees, are able to continue their excellent work without obstacles or interruptions.

Finally, this year, the overall focus must also be on bargaining for Unit 1. I will try my best to expand our membership engagement (perhaps by experimenting with virtual office hours or such similar initiatives), and work with the Stewardship architecture of our local that is now quite strong. Although I do not have experience in being on bargaining committees yet, I will take guidance from our more experienced members and regional office staff in ensuring that everything goes smoothly and to the interest of Unit 1 members.


Vice-President Community Relations Nominations

Name: Doug Yearwood

Department: Political Studies

Employment Position: VP Community Relations

Statement:

I am interested in seeking re-election as Vice President Community Relations. Over the past year and a half, I actively participated within PSAC’s Kingston Area Council, Kingston and District Labour Council, Unity Council, and with different segments of labour more broadly. I endeavoured to get involved in direct action with striking and locked out workers. I also took an active interest in organizing within the union as well as the broader labour community. With this experience informing my perspective, I believe I can improve our position in the community by uniting 901 and the broader labour movement around issues we share in common with Kingston workers. For instance, high housing costs and being underpaid and overworked are issues felt by many graduate student workers and non-graduate student workers in Kingston. These are issues that need to be addressed by strong union engagement. PSAC Local 901 must intensify its efforts to create a better life for its members, knowing that a strong union raises the quality of life for all workers.

The struggle for healthy and accessible food, adequate childcare, better pay/cheaper tuition, affordable housing, and so many other issues facing graduate student workers requires the development of a robust, diverse, creative, and active labour community. I am prepared to commit myself to this struggle as Vice President Community Relations. By utilizing Political Action Committee (PAC) to study the most pressing issues facing our members and developing effective mobilization strategies, we can make significant inroads on these fronts. We can also make use of the PAC to facilitate dynamic, member-led initiatives to educate, mobilize, and organize members and non-901 workers alike.

That said, we can also deploy the PAC when it comes to issues like unaffordable housing. As an example, PSAC Kingston Area Council recently affirmed its support for a tenant resolution calling for rent to be geared at no more than 20 percent of a person’s income. The implementation of this demand would be a major boon for graduate students, many of whom spend upwards of 50 percent of their income on shelter costs. Using PAC to organize around these sorts of proposals, which has support in working class spaces like Katarokwi (Kingston) Union of Tenants and our PSAC Area Council, is something worth fighting for.

It is important that 901 members elect an executive willing to take on the most important issues facing graduate student workers, especially in a bargaining year. I learned a lot from our outgoing executive, and I am happy with what we accomplished. The spirit and dedication they brought to our meetings shaped our executive functioning positively. If I am re-elected, I hope I can offer a continuity reflective of that attitude. Armed with knowledge and experience, I am equipped to continue tackling important problems facing our 901 community. Though the struggle for all the problems we face will be a long one, if re-elected I look forward to the opportunity to take necessary steps forward towards resolving them and making life better for our membership.


Vice-President Research Assistants Nominations

Name: Hannah Hunter
Department: Geography and Planning
Employment Position: TA and RA
Statement:
My name is Hannah Hunter and I’m running for re-election for the position of Vice President Research Assistants with PSAC Local 901. Since being elected to the position in October 2019, I have been committed to fighting for the rights of RAs, building community across graduate student employees, providing additional employment opportunities within the union, and creating resources to assist RAs at Queen’s. As we move forward towards bargaining for our next Unit 1 Collective Agreement in 2021, I believe my commitment in this role and passion for social justice will be critical for the hard work ahead. My platform is as follows:
  1. Formalize an RA Committee within PSAC 901. Whilst an ad-hoc committee of RAs have previously come together to discuss issues, I wish to create a formal committee who will ensure the democratisation of RA leadership, encompass individuals across departments, and mobilise the bargaining unit ahead of negotiation. I will ensure monthly meetings of this committee and budget for all appointed members to be paid for their time.

  2. Begin an information sharing campaign regarding contract and employment rights. Currently, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion regarding rights and contracts at Queen’s. This has particularly been the case regarding the differences of GRA/ GRAF contracts and issues with remote employment. Both of these issues have affected me directly as a mis-categorised GRAF and an international student, and I have spoken with many in similar situations. As well as lobbying the university on these issues and working with individual cases, I would like to start an information sharing campaign that will share key points of the collective agreement and employment law with RAs in accessible, shareable ways, such as infographics and online videos.

  3. Work to build community among RAs during social distancing. Many graduate student employees have been isolated due to physical distancing restrictions, particularly new students. As one small step towards remedying this, I would like to run some online social events such as game nights for RAs, where we can get to know each other and build a supportive community in these hard times.

On top of these three core promises, I will continue to work hard to represent RA interests in the union, help to solve member issues individually, and lobby the university to fight for RA rights. I will also continue to stay active in groups such as the International Student Working Group and the Climate Action Working Group, and to create meaningful paid research positions in the union as I have done this past year. I have put a lot of work this year into learning the ins and outs of the union and the experiences of RAs at Queen’s, and I would love to bring this forward towards a successful bargaining year.

In solidarity,

Hannah Hunter (she/ her)


 Vice-President Postdoctoral Scholars Nominations

Dear PSAC members

I am Ramjee Kandel from the department of chemistry. I was elected as Vice Principal Postdoctoral Scholars only in February 2020. I started raising the concerns of Postdoctoral Scholars at Queen’s University as soon as I took the oath. During my term, I have been working actively to help my fellow friends in giving useful information and suggestion as well as solving individual problem in a confidential manner. Based on my portfolio, I have been involved internally with the PSAC Executive and attending Childcare Bursary, Postdoctoral Fellow and Budget Committees’ meetings. Important of all, with the help of chief negotiator Jawara Gairey and our president, we were able to negotiate an increase in wage benefits as per bill 124.

Moving forward, I am willing to secure the right of postdocs in the following ways.

  1. Do a survey among the post-docs regarding our needs
  2. Monitor the working hours of postdocs in weekend.
  3. Accessing the ARC in subsidized fee
  4. Increase in childcare benefits
  5. Ensure the rights of applying at the Queen’s housing
  6. Become eligible for internal applicant status for Queen’s jobs and many more.

So, in achieving the above benefits, I would like to renominate myself for the post of Vice President Postdoctoral Scholars for 2020/2021. I need your support to remaining in this position and serving you in the coming days.


Co-Chief Steward (1) Nominations 

Harshavardhan Thyagarajan

Biological Sciences

Employment Position: Teaching assistant

Statement:

I’m an international student doing my PhD in the department of Biological sciences. Over the last 2 years, I have been a unit 1 member of the union, employed as a TA with Department of Biological Sciences. During that period, I’ve also served as a member of the Biology Graduate Student Council and the International Graduate Student Network, representing International Graduate students. In this capacity, I have been frequently coordinating with the outgoing 901 exec over the ongoing issue regarding International Students not receiving TA positions residing outside Canada.

In the last year, I have been frequently involved as a rank and file member in the Social Justice Committee of the Union – and have participated and mobilized my colleagues to participate in demonstrations – over RCMP excesses in Wet’suwet’en, Ford government cuts to education, climate action and police brutality against Black people in North America.

If elected, I hope to be able to integrate the Science, Medicine and Engineering departments more with the union, by working to recruit more stewards from currently under represented departments and to increase their access to union’s networks and resources. I would like to train new stewards, with a specific focus on equipping stewards with a keen radar for grievances, and empower them to carry grievances to steward meetings.

I feel that I am uniquely positioned to do this as a science student with commitment to union activism. I believe that a better integrated union empowers members to respond to employer excesses, and simultaneously creates greater grass-root organisation which can empower the union in potential actions.

 

Name: Sanjeev Dahal

Department: Chemical Engineering

Position: Postdoctoral fellow

Statement:

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to apply for the position of co-chief steward (I). With my experience in a developing country such as Nepal, and in developed countries like America and Canada, I can bring new perspectives to the table. I have been part of the union for a year now, and I have learned about the issues that are faced by several departments at Queen’s, some unique and some common. I would like to be part of the team to tackle some of these issues so that Queen’s can be a more welcoming environment for all the workers including postdoctoral fellows.

I believe in an open and honest communication which will continue the existing harmonious relationship between the departments and postdoctoral union. Furthermore, I will try my utmost best to handle the grievances in an appropriate fashion so that both the department and the worker can resolve the issues without any conflict or remorse. Therefore, I am nominating myself for the position of co-chief steward (I).

I hope you will consider me for this position.

 Sincerely,

Sanjeev Dahal


Co-Chief Steward (2) Nominations 

Name: Canan Sahin

Department: Political Studies

Employment Position: TA

Dear PSAC 901 members,

My name is Canan Sahin. I am an international graduate worker in Political Studies. I am running for Co-Chief Steward (2) position, which is one of the executive members crucial in communication of concerns and priorities of the membership to the rest of the Executive, so that interests of our members are maintained and advanced in all forms of conversations with our Employer.

I have been the co-steward from my department for more than a year now. Last year, I participated in Union Basics training offered by PSAC Regional Office, where I had the opportunity to get familiarized with the details of our Collective Agreement and grievance procedures outlined within the CA. I also attended Steward Councils organized by the outgoing Chief Stewards, where I had the chance to observe how Steward Council creates a network of representatives from various departments to keep the membership base connected and informed.

This semester, I also drafted a report for PSAC 901 on the issue of employment barriers for International Graduate Workers outside Canada to be used in the process of arbitration after our grievance was declined by the Employer.

With this basic knowledge and experience in both areas of Co-Chief Stewardship, I think I can productively team-up with the Co-Chief Steward (1) and keep my portfolio always in support of my team-mate.

We are going through a dramatic shift in the way our jobs are performed with the online delivery mode this academic year. This change has had an impact on the forms of grievances our members are facing, and it requires strong communication and committed support from the Co-Chief Steward (2). With the added pressure of the new circumstances, protection of the Collective Agreement and identification of the right strategies in our complaints have become more important. I will address the problems with a perspective that carries an awareness of the novelty of our circumstances and act accordingly.

For almost one and a half years, I got involved in several committees, including Social Justice, Climate Action, Political Action and Union Structure. In this process, I gained a good understanding of how committees work, how Executive members collaborate and work effectively and how membership can be made part of the union in a more engaged way. Therefore, if I am elected, I will be a Co-Chief Steward (2) who will be very sensitive towards equity, social, racial and climate justice and work with the rest of the Exec to advance our performance in these fronts using the maximum power that my portfolio allows. Although it will be hard to match the performance of our previous Co-Chief Steward Morgan Oddie, from whom I learned a lot during different committee and Stewards Council meetings, I think I can help our Local significantly to enhance our membership engagement, strengthen our stewardship system and increase our communication capacity during these challenging times.

To achieve these goals, I am nominating myself for the Co-Chief Steward (2) position and expecting support from our members.

 


 

Health and Safety Officer Nominations

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Luna Yang, and I am interested in the Health and Safety Officer position on the Executive Committee for PSAC901. Please find below my statement of interest.

I am interested in this position as I have always appreciated unions and would love the opportunity to get involved in a more significant way. In my previous university, I was involved with our local union by participating in our elections and keeping track of current events. As well, my undergraduate research focused largely on experiences of racialized workers in the gig economy, which led me to learn more about labour practices. I think unions are vital to upholding the rights of workers, and I am passionate about the work they do. As such, I would really appreciate the opportunity to serve on the executive.

Currently, I am a member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee on behalf of Unit 1 for Business. I serve as a steward for my department and am part of the Social Justice Committee as well. Recently, I also completed a research contract for the union, where I worked with the co-chief steward. I believe my experiences have led me to better understand the way that unions are run, and the needs they have, particularly in the context of 901.

Professionally, many of my work experiences have focused on social justice causes as well as serving those facing multiple barriers. In one of my recent positions, I worked with the University of Victoria as well as community research partners in developing research around the lived experiences of unhoused people through ethnography. The information went to inform policy around the needs of unhoused people and ways larger institutions could support community partners. I also worked with another non-profit working with unhoused people to develop a social media presence for them. This presence was aimed at raising awareness around homelessness, as well as tenancy law and how to avoid evictions. I have always been interested in supporting marginalized peoples in my work and would like to extend that to union work as well. Many students – myself included – are facing difficult times right now, and I would like to join the executive to better speak up for them.

I have always appreciated unions and the work they do, and I find the position of health and safety even more important in the age of COVID. I am passionate about upholding the welfare of fellow students and workers and would appreciate the opportunity to play a larger role.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me should you require any further information.

Sincerely, Luna Yang


Equity Officer Nominations

Name: Prerna Subramanian

Department: Cultural Studies, School of Graduate Studies, Queen’s University

Employment Position: Equity Office

Statement:

During my time in Kingston and Queen’s, I have been involved in equity related work through various avenues available in Kingston and in Queen’s. I started off my community engagement as a Crisis Counsellor at Sexual Assault Center, Kingston and went through equity and anti racism training for the same. This equipped me with the necessary vocabulary for directly conversing with vulnerable community members, especially concerning issues of harassment against womxn and LGBTQ+ persons. Within the Queen’s network, I found a great place in OPIRG Kingston as a board member for engaging with Queen’s students through anti-oppressive events. I handled the social media for OPIRG Kingston’s public statements on pertinent issues on campus alongside organising events in collaboration with PSAC 901, Reelout, AKA Autonomous Centre, AMS student clubs like Levana, QBAS and QBACC. I have also organised events directly with PSAC 901 be it the Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Campus Walkout, events around CAA and NRC Indian Resistance and a discussion on the occupation of Kashmir by the Indian state. Recently, I have been doing work with the International Student Working Group for expanding their social media outreach.

As a migrant student who is academically engaged in research around geographic exclusion and politics of space, I have been attuned to the uneven distribution of resources across communities on and off campus. In the last two years, I have tried to understand the specific ways in which the union works towards equity and have been encouraged by its commitment to solidarity praxis. The present Equity Office has set a strong precedent for what a union should do for its members in terms of engaging with equity-seeking union members. I am willing to extend the work that has already been done and come up with initiatives post-haste and in accordance to the tumultuous times post-pandemic. First, I will be willing to create application processes to administer the multiple bursaries presented before the membership at this AGM. Second, as the chair of Social Justice Committee, I will collaborate with the Political Action Committee to come up with direct engagement actions with community members through issue-specific webinars that encourage union members whose research and activism is based around matters pertinent to anti-oppressive work. This would include anti-oppressive and anti-racist training and workshops for TAs and RAs, especially geared towards classroom and campus dynamics. One of the things I am currently ideating is that the Equity Office could create specific grants for black students and academic workers on campus that highlights their knowledge resources, research and activism. If nominated, I will actively collaborate with other executive members to create an enriching space to move for transformative shifts incumbent upon us.


Treasurer Nominations
Name: Ethan Mitchell
Department: Global Development Studies
Employment Position: Teaching Assistant
Description:
I am a first year Master’s Student and Teaching Assistant in the department of Global Development Studies. Although I am a new PSAC member, I did my undergrad at Queen’s, and have spent a great deal of time working and volunteering in the Kingston community. I would greatly appreciate the chance to contribute to the work done by PSAC 901 as Treasurer.
In 2019, I co-managed the Barrington Walker federal election campaign, overseeing the voter contact, volunteer management, logistics, and data analysis/planning aspects of the New Democratic Party’s electoral campaign in Kingston. I have also volunteered in municipal campaigns, been involved with social justice causes, and supported labour actions during my time in Kingston.
From this, I gained experience not only with coordination, logistics, and organizing, but also developed familiarity with the Kingston community, including the City Council, the Kingston and District Labour Council, and the work of PSAC 901 in representing the membership, but also in its role serving as a crucial progressive force within the wider community. I have been excited to see, over the last few years, the increased momentum around anti-colonial, social justice, pro-worker, and international solidarity struggles, within which PSAC 901 has played a decisive leading role.

If elected as Treasurer, I will apply this experience with coordinating and organizational work to manage the financial and logistical operations of the local, learning from those who have been in the union longer than me, and working to expand my knowledge wherever possible. As a member of the executive, I will further make use of whatever abilities, local familiarities, or connections I have in order to contribute to PSAC 901’s role as the collective representative of its membership, and as a key organization within the Kingston community, pushing for equity, justice, and progressive change.


Information Officer Nominations

Name: Brittainy Bonnis

Department: Cultural Studies PhD

Employment Position: Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant

My involvement in 901 really began 2019 when I was elected Moderator. For the past year I ran General Meetings, attended Steward’s Council and Bylaw Committee meetings, and ensured the accuracy of the minutes for those meetings. The role of Moderator requires an in-depth knowledge not only of PSAC’s Rules of Order but also of 901’s specific Bylaws and so, I became well acquainted with the workings of this local over the past year. During this past term I was also hired to administer the PSAC Local 901 Academic Scholarship for Labour Research and/or Labour Arts and got to see some of the exciting labour related work being undertaken by some of our members. Currently, I am a member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee for the Isabel Bader Centre.

I am running for the position of Information Officer because I know I am well suited to make a positive contribution to the Executive and the local membership. My educational background includes an undergraduate degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in media studies. I have also worked for a number of non-profits in an administration/communications capacity and know the importance of accurate record keeping and timely and effective information and communications strategies. In this time when physical togetherness is limited, communication becomes even more vital. As Information Officer I would strive to make accessible to all members the works of PSAC on campus and in the community.

Hope to see you at the AGM!