TORONTO, Feb. 07, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — This afternoon, hundreds of members of Canada’s largest Teaching Assistant’s union, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3902, gathered outside of Simcoe Hall at the University of Toronto’s St. George campus in an attempt to avert a strike on February 26th.
CUPE 3902’s Unit 1 Collective Agreement expired on December 31st, 2017. The parties have been bargaining with the University since September. In early December, over 1500 members voted 89.4% in support of a mandate to strike.
The rally coincided with the last day of conciliation between CUPE 3902 and the U of T. In January, union members set a strike deadline of February 26. If the parties cannot reach a Tentative Agreement by that date, members will walk.
Members are seeking to ensure that there is a mechanism and sufficient funds in a union administered financial assistance fund to top-up the graduate funding of bargaining unit members with the base funding package. Improvements to mental health coverage, better paid and more accessible pregnancy and parental, and greater support for unfunded students are also on the table.
“Our members struggle to make ends meet while also trying to complete their degrees. We know there’s a mental health crisis happening on Canadian campuses, and financial stress is one piece of that puzzle. Ensuring that the union has enough money to provide a meaningful top-up to base funding would go a long way to help our most vulnerable members,” said Pamela Arancibia, CUPE 3902 Chair and Bargaining Team member. “All of our issues are linked and negotiating a collective agreement that meets our needs is one of the tools we have to try to make the University a safer, more equitable space to work and study.”
The group has received public support from the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), and campus groups such as University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) and University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU).
In 2015, U of T’s Teaching Assistants struck for four weeks in a highly public strike.
Arancibia continued, “Today showed us once again that our members are serious about their Bargaining Team’s demands. We hope the University administration takes heed of today’s message, and won’t put undergraduate students and their families through another strike.”
Tensions are high on campus as union members prepare for job action. After today, no further talks are scheduled between the parties.
Unit 1 Spokesperson
Chair, CUPE 3902
CUPE 3902 Staff
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/28a3c184-69e7-4652-8843-a45cc2a0db07