May 13th, 2022

To Minister Demetrios Nicolaides and Minister Kaycee Madu:

Bill 17 does a disservice to the academically employed graduate student workers we represent. As the bargaining team for Graduate Workers at the University of Lethbridge, we are disappointed at the government’s insistence on maintaining a status quo that creates confusion and restricts our rights as workers.

Bill 17’s amendments to the Labour Statutes Amendment Act continues to force graduate student employees to be represented by their GSA, and not a Union of their choice. Bill 17 continues government interference with our ability to exercise collective power in pursuit of a safe and equitable workplace (as demonstrated by 2015 SCC 1 Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada 2015). By eliminating our agency and independence to determine our own path forward, this government is strangling our ability to freely associate as workers.

This is a clear infringement of our right to choose representation. Further, this decision is massively out of touch with the needs of, and resources available to, graduate student workers. The absence of consultation by the Minister of Advanced Education, Minister of Labour, and our local government representative on how these changes would directly impact us as academic workers is insulting. Bill 17 impedes our ability to strengthen the representation of our members by removing the possibility of joining a larger union group; thus, kneecapping us in our endeavours to improve our members’ resources.

Without proper consultation, the UCP government has put our workers in a precarious situation. We deserve autonomy in the decision of who we choose to represent us. Forcing the GSA to represent graduate student workers is not a sustainable way to organize or represent unionized employees effectively. The GSA, under the current and proposed legislation, must both represent graduate students and those who are academically employed, mutually. This is an impossible task, as both groups have different interests. These proposed changes will hurt graduate student employees, graduate students, and the organizations that are tasked to represent them.

We call on the government to halt the progress of Bill 17 until we are consulted. As such, we invite the Minister of Advanced Education and the Minister of Labour to come to the University of Lethbridge, meet graduate workers, and adequately consult with those impacted by this legislation.


Jackson R. Ham
Graduate Bargaining Team
University of Lethbridge

Jenn Prosser
Chief Steward
Graduate Bargaining Team
University of Lethbridge

Luke Saville
Vice Chair
Graduate Bargaining Team
University of Lethbridge