Grad Students and Teaching Assistants strike across Canada

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Grad Students and Teaching Assistants strike across Canada

University of Toronto (CUPE 3902): narrowly avoided a strike after an 86% strike mandate when U of T administration offered a deal at the strike deadline that was subsequently ratified by the membership (although there was dissent: two members of the bargaining committe resigned in protest at the executive's decision to speak in support of the deal)

The Unviersity of British Columbia (CUPE 2278): currently on the brink of calling a strike after an 81% strike mandate (with only 35% turnout). They are struggling against British Columbia's "net-zero mandate" (as is the BCTF), but want extended hiring preference to match the university's own degree completion times (a non-money issue) and wage parity with Toronto TAs. The bargaining situation is exacerbated by the fact that managers and administrators who make more than $75 000 per year received 4% wage hikes the past two years on average. CUPE 116, the Trades/Technical UBC Union, also voted to strike (89& in favour, 75% turnout) but their job action is not as time sensitive as the TAs'. CUPE 2950 (UBC Support Staff) supports both sister unions but is waiting on a report from President Stephen Toope before taking further action.

York University (CUPE 3902): Gave a 66% positive strike mandate on March 15 and has set a strike deadline for April 12. Their priority areas include wage increases, transit subsidies, and class-size limits.



A few months ago, CUPE 3909 at the University of Manitoba had a 97% strike mandate


why this is happening:


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thanks for that genstrike--was a deal reached?


Yes, a deal was reached in mediation, however that... is another story.

Also, student academic workers at the University of Winnipeg have organized with PSAC and I believe are working towards a first contract.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Simon Fraser University's Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) served its employer a 72-hour strike notice yesterday at 3pm.

Press release (PDF Warning)

“Today at 3:00 p.m. we served seventy-two hours strike notice at Simon Fraser University,”
said Derek Sahota, spokesperson for the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU). “After
twenty-six months at the table with negligible progress, it is now clear that the Employer at
SFU will not bargain with us unless we take action.”

“Our goal is not a picket line, but a collective agreement,” said Sahota. “We will do everything
we can to limit the impact on students, while doing what is necessary to get our employer to
address critical issues facing the University.”

The TSSU represents Teaching Assistants, distance course teachers, continuing instructors,
and Sessional Instructors. TSSU members deliver the majority of face time teaching to
undergraduate students at SFU. The majority of TSSU members are graduate students,
whose average income from all sources is $18,000/year. After paying tuition, these members
have an income of $12,000 per year.

“On average each student has twenty-two percent of their courses delivered by TSSU
Sessional Instructors. These Adjunct Faculty, although highly qualified, have no seniority
rights, minimal benefits, and are paid less than 1/2 of what a Lecturer is paid for the same
work,” said Sahota. “Many of our members are denied access to work opportunities due to
antiquated posting and awarding rules that fail to support the interdisciplinary nature of SFU’s
programs. Our distance teachers are covered by language and pay formulas that arose prior
to the use of email and other web tools. Our full time continuing Instructors at Harbour Centre
are denied the basic benefits that SFU provides to all other continuing employees.”
After 37 days of meeting, the parties have signed one small alteration to the agreement which
brings it into line with the law on the right to refuse unsafe work, and one housekeeping
change. The Union received a 90% strike mandate from its members. The parties have been
in mediation since the strike vote. The mediator has booked out.

“We need equity. Our members need their problems addressed.”

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

CUPE 2278, UBC's Teaching Assitant Union, issued a 72-hour strike notice to the employer yesterday. There are two other CUPE locals on campus: one settled without informing either of their sister locals, while the second settled last week after a short two-week strike. The key issue that has led to the mediation impasse is some measure of tuition protection: any raise the employer offers (including the miserable 1.5% currently on the table) can immediately be clawed back through a tuition hike, which is a precondition of employment. The Company Store 2.0.

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