Captions are also available in the YouTube video.

Agata JagielskaHello and welcome to the University of Waterloo Staff Association introduction video! Representing the UWSA today, we have our President-elect Yessenia Guerrero, Executive Manager Gail Spencer, and me, Agata Jagielska, the current President of the Staff Association.

The staff association has been the voice of staff for over 40 years. We are not a certified union, but we do represent the interests of all staff, including managers, in many of the same ways. There are two other major employee groups on campus – the Faculty Association representing faculty members, and CUPE 793, which represents food services and building and maintenance workers. We are the largest single group, representing 3,000 employees.

We are the officially recognized voice of staff in salary discussions, policy development, and placing staff on many University-level committees. I’ll turn this over to Yessenia to give some more information on the important work that the staff association does here at UW. 

Yessenia Guerrero: Welcome to UW! This is a dynamic place to work, and the UWSA is committed to making it even better. We’re glad you’re here, and we would love to connect with you so that we know what you need to make UW the best place for you.

The first step is making sure you’re a member. Employees hired after October 25, 2022, are automatically members. If you were hired earlier than that, you will need to sign up. UWSA membership is affordable—it’s less than half a percent of your pay. So, for example, if you’re a USG 8, and your pre-tax monthly salary is around $6,000, your monthly dues are around $17.

In return for your dues, our members can make a difference by being included on committees and working groups within the UWSA or university wide. Our members also have access to grants, get invited to social events, and receive discounts from our partners.

These are all great things when times are good, but we also offer our members individual support when something unexpected comes up. For example, if your situation changes and you need to look at options for taking a leave, reducing your hours, or another arrangement, we will support you one-on-one as you work through the related UW processes. If things get worse, we may cover some legal fees if that becomes necessary. Here's Gail to tell you more about this aspect of our services.

Gail SpencerThanks Yessenia. As Executive Manager, I work with the Operations team of the association. Staff support and advocacy is my primary role. I can advocate for staff freely because I work for the Staff Association and not UW. We are a separate organization.

As a member, you can call on us if you need advice, support, or advocacy with any workplace situation. We can help with understanding policy, help you make informed decisions, or point you to an appropriate UW resource. Or we can simply listen. It is a good idea to check in with us first before taking action—being thoughtful and proactive is important. You have access to a great support team with our members advisory committee, but you are always the one in the driver’s seat making the decisions for your situation, and our assistance is always confidential.

Because we are not the employer, we are a safe space to have discussions around whatever challenges you may be facing. Our obligations to report workplace situations are different than the University’s—we are here solely to help you and your colleagues. 

YesseniaThe key thing we’d like you to know is that the UWSA exists to represent your interests. Period. Our mission is to cultivate a progressive work environment where staff feel safe, empowered to grow, and able to thrive—and we need your voice to achieve this. So please stay in touch, get involved, and let us know what you need. 

AgataThank you for watching! Keep an eye out for emails about upcoming events and we hope to see you soon!