OTTAWA – Teaching assistants at “Canada’s Capital University” got a rude surprise over the holidays: they were not paid their “tuition increase protection” rebate, a major part of their compensation that also happens to be the key issue in current contract negotiations with Carleton University, says their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“The tuition rebate ensures that the wages TAs earn are not eaten up by tuition that increases every year,” says Heather Finn, President of CUPE 4600, the union representing 1500 teaching assistants (TAs) at Carleton University.
“Carleton’s actions clearly show where their interests lie,” Finn says. “Saving money by withholding hard-working teaching assistants’ pay is a new low for this administration.”
TAs receive their tuition rebates at the end of every semester. The amount varies depending on the student and on the program, ranging from $75-$430. Carleton did not issue the December payment, has made no explanation and gave no advance notice of its non-payment. The union is seeking clarification, but remains appalled by both the bad faith exhibited by Carleton administration and the blatant violation of the current collective agreement just days before the two sides meet in conciliation.
“Are they trying to force a strike?” asks Finn. “They couldn’t have chosen a better tactic to show bad faith during bargaining and total disregard for Carleton’s students and workers.”
CUPE 4600 and Carleton are scheduled to go back into conciliation talks on January 20, 2009. The union is holding a strike vote next week, from January 13 to 15.
Heather Finn, President, CUPE 4600, cell: 613.884.6311
John Gillies, CUPE Staff Representative, cell: 613.761.2569
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: 613.878.1431