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TORONTO About 80 part-time U of T Bookstore employees have voted 89% in favour of strike action, after their employer made known its intention to freeze their current wage of $7.25 an hour and bring in new employees at minimum wage.

Ontarios current minimum wage is $6.85 an hour.

The workers, who are mostly university students, work as cashiers and sales staff at the U of T Bookstore. They are currently trying to negotiate a first contract with the bookstore.

While the U of T Bookstore is a separate corporation, its entire Board of Directors is appointed by the university. The 80 employees are members of CUPE Local 3261.

Union President Mehdi (PRON: MEH-dee) Kouhestaninejad (PRON: KOO-es-tan-in-EH-jad) says, “its ironic that on the heels of the universitys recent decision on sweatshop clothing, they seem prepared to sit idly by while the U of T Bookstore creates a job ghetto right here on campus.”

Says Kouhestaninejad, “this strike vote sends a strong signal to U of T Press that they need to make a real offer to the part-time staff.” CUPE also has charges against the bookstore before the Labour Board, for having disciplined one bargaining committee member and fired another.

In Question Period yesterday, as part of their minimum wage campaign, NDP leader Howard Hampton raised the issue of the U of T Bookstore intending to pay its workers minimum wage. He asked the minister of labour if he would raise it to $7.50 an hour.

For information:
Mehdi Kouhestaninejad, President Local 326
(416) 340-7844 (o), (416) 336-1598 (p)
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep.
(416) 292-3999 (o)

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