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Two of Toronto’s largest universities are facing strike turmoil, triggered by a Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

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Two of Toronto’s largest universities are facing strike turmoil, triggered by a Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) walkout.

These labour actions will cause educational disruptions across the Greater Toronto Area. It would also cause economic disruption as pickets are unfurled onto the streets. In regards to numbers, that’s more than 100,000 undergraduates affected just as the finally lap of the school year begins.

Up at York University, the administration cancelled all classes today, as well as exams and academic extra-circulars activities in response to the strike vote by CUPE 3903. 3,700 York staff who were allowed to vote, including teaching assistants and contract professors, voted at night on Monday March 2, 2015.

They rejected the offer that the CUPE union executive urged them to take because wage hikes and job security were not entrenched into the new contract. More than 1,100 CUPE 3903 members attended the meeting, with 71 per cent voting down the offer.

The rationale behind the across-the-board cancellations at York University was to provide equity access to all students so everyone was affected by the strike. CUPE 3903 has a history of militancy in the GTA, stretching as far back as opposing the war in Iraq (2003) and participating inthe Queen’s Park Riots (2000).

York facilities, including libraries, residences, computer labs, cafeterias and athletic facilities will remain open, the university said. The situation is somewhat different at the University of Toronto, where 6,000 teaching assistants from CUPE 3902 have already walked off the job Friday evening, February 26, 2015 – which affects all three campus locations with cancelled tutorials, labs and some classes.

At the University of Toronto, their contract faculty already had a tentative deal, so unlike York University, it is only the Teaching Assistants (TAs) that are on strike. There are usually full-time masters and doctoral students who work part time at the school to help pay their tuition.

At the U of T, contract faculty already have a tentative deal, so those on strike are TAs. These are largely full-time master’s and doctoral students who work part-time for the university as a way to help pay for their studies.

Research grants, scholarships and fellowships also cover costs such as tuition and fees. The last time TAs went on strike at the University of Toronto was in 2000, and it lasted three and a half weeks.

The Toronto Transit Commission has altered bus routes to the University of Toronto’s Mississauga and Scarborough campuses, and York campuses during the strike.

More info to come.

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