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CUPE members at Carleton University have won a major victory that sends a clear signal to universities across the country: university workers are determined to keep post-secondary education accessible.

Members of CUPE 4600, representing 1,200 teaching and research assistants, reached a tentative settlement this week that provides improvements to wages and benefits and a partial tuition indexation. With the threat of a strike looming, negotiators bargained through the night, agreeing in the end that three-quarters of any tuition increase should be reimbursed.

We were willing to put our jobs on the line to prove our commitment to affordable, quality public education, said local president Aalya Ahmad. Now we can stand up and say we have a tuition-fee assistance plan 75 cents on the dollar. Thats what we went in for and we got it.

This victory builds on the success of CUPE 3903 at York University that fought a bitter eleven-week strike to defend their contract language guaranteeing full indexation for tuition increases.

National President Judy Darcy welcomed the settlement as a boost to the unions bargaining and organizing agenda. CUPE has been leading the fight for fair wages and working conditions for university workers while at the same time ensuring our universities remain accessible. With the recent victory at York and now at Carleton, weve shown that universities cannot use teaching and research assistants as a cheap labour pool. Universities belong to the people not to corporations.