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VANCOUVER, BC. - Teaching Assistant Unions from across Canada will come together in Vancouver from August 12 – 13, 2005, to share information and strategies to improve their working conditions and position themselves to get better contracts. The inaugural meeting of the Canadian Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions (CCGEU) is set to include discussions of coordinated bargaining and organizing.

This conference lays the groundwork for continued cooperation for the benefit of Teaching Assistants across Canada and the improvement of post-secondary working conditions for years to come,” explained Elissa Strome, President of CUPE Local 2278. The local, which represents more than 2,000 Teaching Assistants at the University of British Columbia, is hosting the meeting.

Teaching Assistants from Newfoundland to Victoria have many issues in common. Wages, tuition fees, and class sizes are just a few that come to mind. This conference provides an opportunity to learn from one another and to open the doors to further communication,” said Kevin Tilley, Chair of the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) representing more than 1,500 Teaching Assistants and Sessional Lecturers at Simon Fraser University.

Delegates to the CCGEU meeting represent unionized Teaching Assistants at 14 universities across Canada. They are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Public Service Alliance of Canada, and independent unions.

Organizers have also invited non-union Teaching Assistant organizations to attend. “We have a responsibility to aid our colleagues who are working at universities without the same rights and benefits that we have,” said Archana Rampure, Chair of CUPE Local 3902. Local 3902 has recently organized 1,000 Sessional Lecturers and now represents some 5,500 Graduate Student Employees and Sessionals at the University of Toronto.

Teaching Assistants are graduate and undergraduate students who teach classes, lead labs and tutorials, and mark papers and exams. They do a significant amount of the teaching at Canadian universities.

For more information, contact:

Elissa Strome
president, CUPE Local 2278
(604) 224-2118
(778) 883-5068 (cell)