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Guelph – A strike/lockout deadline of March 9th, 12:01 a.m., has been set by the Ministry of Labour in the negotiations between teaching assistants/sessional lecturers and the University of Guelph. CUPE Local 3913, which represents the 1050 academic workers at the university, has been given a strike mandate by its membership.

“Getting a fair deal and avoiding a strike is completely achievable,” said Toni Xerri, negotiator for Local 3913. “But for that to happen, the university has to stop dragging its feet and finally get serious about these negotiations. We are seeking basic things that exist in parallel contracts at other Ontario universities, such as tuition relief. By contrast, the university is seeking concessions. If a strike is to be avoided, they will need to recognize the value of our work to the quality of education at the University of Guelph, and reflect that in a fair offer at the table.”

Teaching assistants (TAs) are concerned about the impact of the incoming “double cohort” in the fall of 2003, and are fighting for manageable class sizes through a cap on the student to TA ratio. Wages, benefits, and job security for sessional lecturers are all major issues yet to be resolved in the limited negotiations that have happened to date.

“Perhaps this strike deadline will focus management’s attention on getting a deal,” said Xerri. “The issues that we are fighting for relate directly to the quality of education at this university. We really hope that management will see that, and do what’s necessary to avoid a disruptive strike.”

Further negotiations are scheduled for March 3rd, 4th, and 6th, and will take place with the assistance of a provincial mediator.

CUPE represents over 180,000 working women and men in Ontario, many of whom work in the university, municipal, school board and hospital sectors.


For more information:
Toni Xerri, CUPE 3913 negotiator,
(519) 803-0935 (cell)
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications,
(416) 292-3999 (office), or (416) 738-4329 (cell)