Graduate Student Assistantship

The role of a Graduate Student Assistantship (GSA) is to provide academic duties that include research duties assigned to a graduate student engaged in research performed for a member of faculty not directly related to the student’s own research.

The research oriented projects contribute to the student’s academic and professional development. Must be a part-time or full-time registered Western graduate student.

Additional Details

Compensation Rate Determined by hiring unit
Employment Deductions and Benefit Changes Regular deductions - Tax, CPP, EI etc., 14%
CRA Tax Treatment Regular income, 100% taxable, reported on T4 tax receipt
Posting Required? No Posting Required
System Paid Through HR Payroll system; Hired by Staff Appointment Notice (HR) (login required)
Job Code; When Paid X0500; Monthly or weekly
Employment Contract Requirements for International Students

Important information regarding application for unionization of GSAs

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) union has applied to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to certify and represent all registered graduate students at The University of Western Ontario employed as Graduate Student Assistants (GSAs).

Those registered full-time or part-time graduate students who are employed as a Graduate Student Assistant for not more than 24 hours per week, as of April 26, 2024, save and except those represented by another trade union, will have the opportunity to participate in a formal vote to determine whether they wish to be represented by PSAC in their employment relationship with the University.

The certification vote will take place electronically. GSAs will receive an email from the Ontario Labour Relations Board inviting them to participate in the voting process. This vote will be conducted confidentially with no record kept identifying how anyone voted.


GSAs are encouraged to exercise their right to participate in this vote. It is important to note that the outcome of the vote will be determined by the majority of those who actually vote. If individuals do not wish to be represented by PSAC, then they need to cast a ballot to ensure that their voice is heard.

The following questions and answers have been prepared to help GSAs better understand this process.

Who is PSAC?

PSAC stands for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and they are a union that represents various groups of employees across the country. PSAC Local 610, represents Graduate Teaching Assistants and Postdoctoral Associates at Western.

What does it mean to be Unionized?

Being in a role that is “unionized” means that you will have dues deducted from your monthly pay so that anything directly related to your employment conditions such as your hourly wage or other benefits that might result from joining the Union are negotiated on your behalf through a collective agreement.

How is my salary determined now?

Each individual researcher determines your salary out of the resources available in their research grant(s).

If I have signed a union card, do I have to vote for the union?

You have the right to vote for whichever option you now choose. Signing a card merely indicated that you wanted the opportunity to consider a union.

Why is my vote important?

We encourage you to vote and have your voice heard. That is your right, and it is also an important responsibility. There will be an electronic vote conducted by the Ontario Labour Relations Board that will be open from 2 p.m., April 30 to 2 p.m., May 2, 2024. We strongly encourage you to vote and remind you that your vote is confidential.

If a majority of people vote in favour of unionization, then the union will have the right to represent everyone in the bargaining unit, whether or not you voted for the union. There is no minimum number of people who must vote. For example, if a union seeks to represent 200 people and only 20 people vote, your future could be decided by as few as 11 people.

How will the union certification vote be conducted?

There will be an electronic vote conducted by the Ontario Labour Relations Board that will be open from 2 p.m., April 30 to 2 p.m., May 2, 2024. The vote will be by secret ballot – you may vote for or against the union, whether or not you signed a union card. No one will ever know how you voted.

Why is the vote by secret ballot?

The vote is by secret ballot so that every eligible graduate student working as a GSA can vote in privacy without anyone else knowing how they voted. How you vote is your choice, regardless of whether you signed a union card or not.

Will joining a union guarantee benefits and salary increases?

It’s important to understand that in the event of unionization, every aspect of your relationship would be negotiated on your behalf. If the union is elected, it will only get the right to negotiate with the University. Any hourly wage increases or other employment benefits that might result from joining the union would have to be negotiated through a collective agreement.

Will I be required to pay union dues?

Yes. Unions collect their funds by imposing membership dues, initiation fees, special contributions and/or other levies on their members. Union dues are typically a percentage of members’ average wages, based on the union’s Constitution. While we do not know the exact amount of union dues that will be charged to you.

If the union is voted in, even if it is voted in by the narrowest margin, the University will be obliged by law to collect union dues from all members in the bargaining unit and remit them to the union. It doesn’t matter whether the member joined the union, voted for the union, or whether or not they agree with the deductions – all the members must pay union dues. This is why it is important to vote, to have a say in whether you agree with these deductions from your pay.

If I do not want to pay union dues or become a union member, what are my obligations if the union is voted in?

If the union is voted in, you will have to pay union dues as a condition of employment. When the union requests compulsory deduction of dues from employees’ pay cheques, the law requires the University to make such deductions. In addition, unions most often insist on compulsory membership in the union as a condition of employment.

If the union is voted in, can I still deal with my researcher/PI/faculty member as an individual?

No. If the union is voted in, you will eventually be governed by a union contract and union constitution. The University could not deal with you on an individual basis in matters relating to your employment, such as wages and working conditions.

If the union loses the vote, will there be any type of discriminatory action taken against employees who supported the union?

No, the University will not take any action against any employee for exercising free democratic choice to vote. Should the union win the vote, the University cannot and will not be forced by the union to take any action against employees who did not support the union. It is unlawful for anyone, including the union, to take any action against you for exercising your free choice.