Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.
VANCOUVER The UBC campus is only days away from the threat of major disruption, with the universitys teaching assistants now in a legal position to take job action.

Although the potential nature of the action has not been revealed, students, teaching assistants and university administration alike appear to be preparing for the possibility of a total shutdown by Wednesday, February 12, 2003.

Mediation broke down on Friday 7th, when the university administration refused to discuss tuition - the number one issue for teaching assistants at UBC. The UBC Board of Governors recently approved a 20% increase in tuition fees for most graduate students, and has made its intention public to impose similar increases in coming years. This is in addition to the $500 increase in tuition fees last year.

The TAs are angry that this will mean a 16% cut in their salaries. Paying tuition is a condition of employment for UBC teaching assistants. Theyre basically giving you money with one hand, then taking away a third of it with the other. Its a pretty bizarre system, said one graduate. The Teaching Assistants Union (CUPE 2278) is bargaining for tuition waivers for the 1600 teaching assistants at UBC. However the university remained adamant that it was unwilling to discuss the question at all, and so the mediator booked out last Friday, February 7. CUPE 2278 immediately issued 72 hours strike notice.

Under conditions of serving strike notice some job action must begin at UBC today, Monday, February 10. However, the Teaching Assistants Union is giving UBC until Wednesday morning, February 12, to come back to the bargaining table with some meaningful proposals on tuition. If the university continues to refuse, the teaching assistants fear major job action is inevitable.

During mediation, the university had moved from its insistence on a wage freeze, to offering the union 3%, 2% and 2% increases over a three-year contract. This is clearly insufficient, said TA Union President Alex Grant, inflation in Vancouver exceeds three percent at the moment, and they arent offering us anything that cant be clawed back in tuition hikes.

The TA Union enjoys support from the Student Union (Alma Mater Society), which has agreed to close facilities and continue to pay staff in support of the TAs actions.

Two other major campus unions are also on the verge of job action. CUPE 116, which represents outside, food service and bookstore workers, took an 86% strike vote last Friday. Both CUPE 116 and CUPE 2950, which represents clerical and library workers, have pledged their support to the TA Union. Nobody wants to strike, said Grant, but the administration has backed us up against a wall. We hope that the immense support that we are getting will cause the administration to see sense and change its position on tuition to avert a strike.


For more information please contact:
Alex Grant (604) 916-2117

Notes to Editors:
  1. CUPE Local 2278 is the union of the UBC teaching assistants, markers and English Language instructors. Approximately 70% of graduates do teaching assistant work at some point in their degrees. Teaching assistants shoulder 40% of the teaching load at UBC.