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Toronto—Employee relations at the University of Toronto are about to plummet unless the administration, now in negotiations with 182 graduate assistants at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) offers the same funding package that has been extended to its other graduate student employees, says Sid Ryan, the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The graduate students, members of CUPE Local 3907, are among the worst funded in the province.

The majority of these university workers are women and the administration has been dragging its feet in these negotiations and has refused to offer them the same employee benefits it has afforded other members of the teaching faculty.”

The issue here is equity with other workers and this university administration is being put on notice, there is widespread support for the graduate assistants at OISE from other unions on campus and from university workers throughout the province,” says Ryan.

Ryan will be joining members of Local 3907, students and other university workers for a march and rally on Tuesday, March 5. The march begins in front of OISE at 12 noon and proceeds down St. George to Simcoe Hall (Kings College Circle) where a rally will take place.

Despite many strikes by graduate assistants, university administrations are still treating this increasingly important group of workers, who are doing about 40 per cent of the teaching at Ontario universities, as second class workers and that’s not acceptable. Recent successful strikes by CUPE members in the university sector should be a clear indicator to all university administrations across Ontario, that there is great momentum and solidarity among graduate and teaching assistants. And they are prepared to fight and win,” says Ryan.

This weekend, CUPE activists from the university sector are meeting at a conference in Windsor to develop campus coalitions aimed at tackling key issues such as skyrocketing tuition fees, privatization of post-secondary education and the increasing use of contract faculty and teaching assistants by universities.

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For more information please contact:

Sid Ryan President CUPE Ontario (416) 209-0066

Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications (416) 578-8774