Saying that the University of Toronto is failing to provide a living wage, contract educators, contract instructors, teaching assistants, and post-doctoral researchers have voted 94.4% in favour of a strike if their employer does not take action to address the rising cost of living.

“We do the vast majority of teaching at the University of Toronto, but get paid less than other educators teaching the same courses. Instructors and the workers who teach labs, mark papers and foster the university’s world-class learning environment can’t even afford to live in the city they teach in,” said Eriks Bredovskis, president of the CUPE 3902.

Nearly 8,000 academic workers, along with maintenance, caretakers, groundskeeping, residence and foodservice staff represented by CUPE Local 3261, will be in a legal strike position in early March.

Academic workers are seeking improvements to compensation that had been restrained for years by the Ford government’s unconstitutional Bill 124. As well, CUPE 3902 is pressing the university on inequalities faced by groups of workers who are paid less even though they do the same work as others on campus.

The union members are also demanding the university be a leader in Toronto by providing its most precarious workers with affordable sustainable access to transit – something that exists at most Canadian universities.

“Public transit is vitally important for working people, especially as the difference between our incomes and the cost of living are pushing us to live further and further from our workplace,” said Bredovskis. “What we are advocating for benefits workers and students alike. Our working conditions are their learning conditions.”