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Collective bargaining in the university sector has hit a fever pitch in Ontario, with some CUPE locals resorting to strike action to back their contract demands.

2,400 Teaching Assistants at the University of Toronto (CUPE 3902) have been locked out by their employer since January 7. Their job action comes hard on the heels of a five-week strike by 1,200 TAs at McMaster University. CUPE 3906 members at Mac won significant wage increases in that dispute and a three-year freeze on tuitions.

At issue in both disputes are several years with no wage increase, tuition rebates, decent health benefits and job security.

Toronto TAs argue that if you were to add up the tuition fee increases since 1991-92, they’ve actually taken an 84% reduction in their pay.

They currently make less annually than they have to pay out for tuition, now some $5,100 a year. Their average salary is $4,100 a year.

Meanwhile, service staff at U.of T. have just ratified a tentative agreement reached last week. CUPE 3261 represents 400 support staff workers at the U. of T.

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