TORONTO – Teaching assistants at the University of Toronto, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3902, have voted 1015 to 232 in favour of giving their bargaining committee a strike mandate.
“Teaching assistants voted in record numbers because concerns about tuition and funding have struck a chord across the three University of Toronto campuses,” said Archana Rampure, Chair of Local 3902. “University negotiators have told us that tuition increases are on their way but the university is unwilling to agree to our modest proposals that would alleviate some of the financial burden on teaching assistants.
“Teaching assistants are not apprentices,” said Rampure. “The university is saying that it wants to attract 25 to 50 per cent more graduate students to compensate for the faculty shortage on the horizon. If the University of Toronto wants to attract new graduate students, it should be willing to compensate them for the work they do. Teaching assistants do 40 per cent of the teaching here. We teach classes, mark papers, run tutorials, supervise labs and work one-on-one with students. We do 858,000 hours of work for the university each year but account for only 2.7 per cent of the university’s budget.
“The average teaching assistant earns about $6,200 a year for a great deal of hard work,” said Rampure. “There is something wrong when we cannot get the university to agree to very modest equity proposals such as a child care subsidy and EI top-ups, something that is commonplace in workplaces today.”
The local is seeking a three-year contract that includes language on funding, wage increases to compensate for losses through inflation, employment insurance top-ups for parental leave, and assistance with child care costs. The last contract expired in April.
CUPE Local 3902 represents teaching assistants, student course instructors, and sessionals at the University of Toronto and contact instructional staff at Victoria College.
For further information, please contact:
416-292-3999 ext. 278