“We have been at the bargaining table for months and have been crystal clear with the employer that they need to address our serious concerns around poverty-level wages, educational quality and intellectual property rights,” said Noreen Cauley-Le Fevre, president of CUPE 4600, which represents more than 3,000 teaching assistants and contract instructors at Carleton University. “Our members sent a strong message with their strike vote, and resoundingly rejected Carleton’s inadequate offer on Friday. The University clearly did not take that message to heart and has left us with no option but to take strike action.”
Wages at Carleton are among the worst in the province. Teaching assistants have fallen so far behind inflation that graduate students now represent 80% of users of the campus food bank, despite representing only 6% of students. Contract instructors earn 15% less than their counterparts at the University of Ottawa.
The university has also rejected proposals that would set TA to student ratios. Such ratios would allow instructors to plan courses properly and help ensure quality education for undergraduate students. Such ratios already exist at other universities. Instructors are also looking for the same intellectual property rights given to permanent instructors at the university.
Units 1 and 2 of CUPE 4600 began strike action at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, and held a rally at 11:00 a.m. at the campus entrance at Bronson and Sunnyside avenues.
“We are letting the public know in advance that there will be disruptions so they can plan accordingly, and we are grateful for all the messages of support that are pouring in from students and the community,” said Cauley-Le Fevre. “We remain hopeful the university move quickly to end the strike by finally addressing our concerns, but to date we have seen little movement from management on key issues.”
CUPE 4600 members teach approximately 30% of courses at Carleton University.