Possible U of T TA strike

Canadian Universities Forum (discussion group)

Subject: Possible U of T TA strike
Wednesday, 04 January 2006
Union members vote ´yes´ to strike
On the heels of a teaching assistant strike that was narrowly averted at York University thanks to last-minute negotiations, the University of Toronto may face another TA strike if the administration does not comply with their demands.
CUPE 3902, the union that represents 3,500 of the U of T´s Teaching Assistants (TAs), lab demonstrators and invigilators, held a strike vote where an approximate 81 per cent ?Yes´ vote prevailed, allowing union executives to call a strike if negotiations continue to be fruitless. The three-year contract with the university has been up for renewal since Apr. 30, 2005. Collective bargaining continued throughout the summer and has been unsuccessful since the university is not meeting the union´s demands for higher wages and tuition indexation. "Our current wages do not match with the current inflation," says Anil Varughese, spokesperson for CUPE 3902, adding that members have lost purchasing parity at 11.3 per cent over the last decade. Tuition hike protection is another concern among union members. After Premier Dalton McGuinty´s announcement of a tuition freeze lift in September, Varughese says that the lift will greatly affect the members. He suggests the administration cap graduate tuition like York University, or find other ways to protect union members from experiencing fee hikes. Reduced working hours is another ongoing demand. Under their Guarantee Funding Package, teaching assistants get $12,000 plus tuition as a minimum guarantee. This requires TAs to work 280 hours.

CUPE 3902 celebrate vote
"In our last round of collective bargaining, we have brought this number down to 210 [hours]. We are striving for 160 [hours] in the next three years," says Varughese. The university is reluctant to comment on the union´s demands due to negotiations, but left a statement on why it has taken so long to come to this point.
"Many issues were placed on the table by the union and we have reached an agreement on a significant number of these. The issues were not simple and required extensive discussion," says professor Angela Hildyard, vice-president of U of T´s Human Resources and Equity, who is part of the university´s bargaining team.
"We believe that our offer is fair, reasonable and extremely responsive to the proposals tabled by the union," said Hildyard.
The suspension of classes is still unclear if a strike were to take place.
CUPE 3902 went on strike in 2000 for almost a month when its union members picketed and students were locked out. The union and the university will meet with a conciliator at the Ministry of Labour on Monday, Jan. 16.

(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)
This happens every few years at UofT. The previous TA strikes didn´t succeed in shutting down the entire university but did result in ~30 (out of several hundred) courses being cancelled. The difference between UofT and the recent York TA strike is UofT profs are allowed to hire outside help (meaning paying TA grad students to take over routine marking).


TA´s give strike mandate

November 8, 1999

By Jane Stirling

Eighty-two per cent of U of T´s 2,600 teaching assistants who voted have given their union a mandate to call a strike at a future date.

In a strike vote held on the three campuses Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, about 1,000 teaching assistants, lab demonstrators and instructors voted yes, handing their executive the authority to hold a strike at a later time. More than 1,200 people voted -- "the largest turnout we´ve ever had," said Mikael Swayze, chief negotiator of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 3902, and the union´s staff representative.

"We hope this will make it clear that our members are behind our demands," Swayze said. "Our bargaining committee felt the administration was under the impression we weren´t representative of our membership." He added the yes vote would help to strengthen the union´s position at the bargaining table.

Professor Michael Finlayson, vice-president (administration and human resources), said he is disappointed by the vote results but pleased at the high turnout because it means a significant number of TAs took the opportunity to make their voices heard. "It will be a difficult time for the union and the university in the weeks to come. I´m hopeful we´ll reach agreement and we´ll do all we can but there are some very difficult issues to resolve. The issue of principle is at the heart of this dispute."

The university, Finlayson said, does not want to create two classes of graduate students -- those with TAships and those without. For example, the union has proposed TAs receive a tuition waiver, a perk that would not be extended to all graduate students. Finlayson added the majority of graduate students do not have TA appointments.

In addition to the tuition waiver for its members, CUPE 3902 is also asking for wage parity with TAs at York University, job security and a dental/health care plan.

The administration and union return to conciliation today with Bill Lloyd, a professional conciliator appointed by the minister of labour Oct. 25. The two sides met with Lloyd for the first time Nov. 1.

If conciliation efforts fail, Lloyd would inform the labour minister and 17 days later the university would be in a legal position to lock out employees or the union to go on strike. Swayze explained the union could theoretically go on strike any time but this would only occur after members had voted to approve a particular strike date.

The teaching assistants were out on strike for almost two weeks in 1989 over workload and wages and again for two weeks in 1991.

(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)
Sorry, that should read: "paying NON-TA grad students to take over routine marking"
(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)

(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)
Yeah, it sucks to be associated with U of T.

(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)
Poor bugger, you must feel really insecure about your university to have such a big chip on your shoulder.
(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)
I agree. U of T is for idiots!

(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)
Earth is for Earthlings!
(in reply to: Possible U of T TA strike)
Some kid thinks it?s easy to shut down a thread with garbage. It?s not. Here?s how to post past 11 replies.

Go to the topic you want to post a reply to. Look in the address bar for the message number. Eg, the Possible U of T TA strike is 2161.

Go back to the forum index and click on a thread that hasn?t reached 11 posts yet. Click on the Post Reply button.

In the address bar, change the message number to the thread you want to post to. Eg, change the Why? thread?s 2154 to 2161 for Possible U of T TA strike. Hit enter on your keyboard.

The thread your reply will be posted to has now been changed from Why? to Possible U of T TA strike. Type your message and click Submit.

Roll, spark, inhale, repeat.


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