University of Toronto contract staff vote in favour of strike mandate

Nov 24 2017, 1:08 am

Just as the Ontario colleges strike has come to an end, another strike is in the works.

This time, however, it’s only involving the contract staff from the University of Toronto (U of T).

The contract academic workers at U of T have given their union a 91% mandate in favour of strike action as they work towards a new contract for Unit 3, Local 3902 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3902-3).

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says the workers include non-student sessional lecturers, writing instructors and music professionals.

At U of T, sessional lecturers currently deliver over 20% of all undergraduate teaching, yet still, earn less and have little to no job security.

“For Sessional Lecturers at the University of Toronto, there is no clear path to permanent employment,” said CUPE 3902 Chair, Pamela Arancibia.

“Many of our members have been working at the University of Toronto for decades. The minimum per-course salary for Sessional Lecturers is less than $15,000, whereas Faculty members earn at least $23,000 for teaching the same courses.”

This works out to being paid less than two-thirds for completing the same work.

“And it doesn’t even touch on the fact that nearly half of all Sessional Lecturers are women, whereas more than 60% of all faculty are men,” said Arancibia.

Referring to Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, she continued, “Kathleen Wynne’s government recognizes that equal pay for equal work is a crucial issue for Ontario’s workers; so too should the University of Toronto.”

Despite undergraduate tuition is continually on the rise and continuing to attract ever-increasing numbers of foreign students, U of T refuses to commit to long-term job security for the people delivering many of its undergraduate courses.

“After four months at the bargaining table, we’ve made some gains in terms of wage increases, but the University believes that our mandate to pave a pathway to permanent employment is unacceptable, and that addressing the precarious nature of our work is fundamentally inconsistent with current hiring practices,” said Jess Taylor, Spokesperson for the Unit 3 Bargaining Team.

“Our members sent the strongest possible message to the University,” Taylor added, “and we sincerely hope that this message was received by their negotiators.”

The two sides are scheduled to resume bargaining this Friday, November 24.

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