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WINDSOR, ON– Frustrated by the slow pace of contract negotiations and demands for a major concession, graduate and teaching assistants, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4580, held a strike vote last night.

CUPE Local 4580 is comprised of over 900 University of Windsor students employed as Graduate and Teaching Assistants on campus. The meeting was well attended and resulted in a vote 77 percent in support of giving a strike mandate to their bargaining committee.                                     

Graduate students are not typical students,” says Local 4580 President Denton Cockburn, “they are funded to apply their knowledge to improve quality of education within a post-secondary institution. The success of their studies requires that they are financed to complete their Master or Doctorate and assist other Faculty Teaching Members. What the employer is proposing would significantly reduce funding to Graduate Students. This will not help the quality of education at this University which is necessary for it to compete with other institutions.” He added.

The Contract between the University and CUPE Local 4580 expired last August. “Many of our current members and a number of our Executive are graduating this year; we think the University refusal to negotiate with us on days we know they are available is a sign they treat us as second class members of this community” Cockburn continued.

In addition, the University has ignored the Union proposals to address workload issues for Teaching assistants, many of whom are afforded insufficient time to complete their duties. This is not acceptable to our members. We need this University Administration to make our negotiations a priority” said Denton Cockburn.

We are urging students, parents, and area residents to contact university administrators to demand they make this negotiation with Graduate Students a priority. We, for our part, are waiting at the bargaining table for a fair settlement to avoid a disruption that will hurt the university’s students and University of Windsor reputation.” Cockburn concluded.

For further information, please contact:

Denton Cockburn, CUPE 4580 President: 519-915-1557

Joel Bentley, CUPE National Representative: 519-966-9595

Christian Martel, CUPE Communications: 647-270-6775 (cell)