VICTORIA After months of bargaining, including an attempt at mediation in December followed-up recently by an offer to accept binding arbitrationan offer rejected by university administrationteaching assistants, language instructors and computing staff at UVic have tendered their required 72-hour notice before taking strike action.
“It seems pretty clear to us,” says Sherwin Arnott, chair of the CUPE local 4163 bargaining team, “that strings are being pulled beyond this campus administration. While the union has done everything, including offering to accept binding arbitration, to avoid job action, the University is steadfastly offering us nothing. At this point we have no choice but to exercise our right to strike.”
CUPE members expressed concern about a campus-wide shutdown during the Monday night meeting where the decision to give the 72-hour notice was taken. “Were students, and we want whats best for students,” said Kristin Atwood, a graduate student in the department of Sociology. ” Even at this final hour we hope the University will address the key issues of tuition and wages before were forced to put up picket lines.”
CUPE 4163 members have been hit with major financial hardships in the last two years. Tuition has increased 70% yet with no corresponding wage increases for TAs. Currently UVic TAs earn $17 per hour, while TAs at UBC and SFU earn $25 and $27 per hour respectively. Negotiations have been underway since August but no wage offer has been made to offset tuition fee increases.
Sherwin Arnott, Bargaining Team Chair, CUPE local 4163, 250-818-5717; or Melissa Moroz, Communications Director, CUPE local 4163, 250-213-9637.