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In historic numbers, sessional lecturers, writing instructors, music professionals and sessional instructional assistants, members of Local 3902 (Unit 3) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3902), have voted overwhelmingly to authorize ‘any and all actions necessary’ to secure a fair collective agreement with their employer, the University of Toronto (U of T).

Last week, Unit 3 members held a strike vote for only the second time in the ten year history of their bargaining unit. Close to 260 ballots were cast (nearly doubling previous voter turnout), with 92.1 per cent of members giving their bargaining committee a mandate to take any and all actions necessary—up to and including strike action—if they cannot achieve a collective agreement through negotiations with U of T.

“This vote reflects members resolve that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option; it serves notice that members demand the kind of job security, compensation and benefits that reflect their contribution to the university’s reputation and position as one of the world’s top teaching and research institutions,” said Unit 3 Vice-Chair Dr. Erich Vogt.

Sessional Lecturers perform about 35 per cent of all undergraduate teaching at U of T, yet comprise only one per cent of the university’s overall budget. The majority have the same qualifications and experience as permanent faculty, but lack job security, never knowing what work they will have from term-to-term, and having to reapply every four-to-eight months for courses they have successfully taught in the past. Since August 2012, there has been no increase to the base rate of wages, and benefit levels have remained frozen for a decade. Many Unit 3 members, who have PhDs and are teaching at the university level, live below the poverty line and are afforded a mere $275 per course for health benefits.

Members of CUPE 3902 Unit 3 now join with members of Unit 1, which represents graduate student teaching assistants, course instructors, invigilators and accessibility services employees, who this past fall issued a 91.3 per cent strike mandate. Between the two units, close to 2,000 education workers at the U of T have expressed their willingness to take job action, if necessary.

CUPE 3902 is proud of our members and the decisiveness of their vote,” said Dr. Erin Black, chair of CUPE 3902. “This union always bargains in good faith, but we cannot compromise the core needs of our members. It is time the university shows our members – who contribute so significantly to the delivery of undergraduate education at Canada’s largest university – the appropriate respect and recognition that they deserve.”

For more information, please contact:

Erin Black, CUPE 3902 Unit Chair, 416-806-3902  

Kevin Wilson, CUPE National Communications, 416-821-6641