Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


NEWS

Toronto university TA strike continues

Western receives $10 M gift from city

Holiday crash claims life of student

Millennium scholarships awarded provincewide

Y2K goes off without a hitch

Western researchers prove what Bond knew all along

BAss Ackwards

Toronto university TA strike continues



By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

Students at the University of Toronto are being left out in the cold, as Teaching Assistants are literally walking off the job.

The TAs at U of T voted overwhelmingly to strike at the stroke of midnight Sunday, causing havoc for students and professors at nearly all of U of T's campuses, said Mikael Swayze, chief negotiator for the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3902, which represents the 2,400 TAs employed at the university.

"Our members told us that tuition release was a major issue," Swayze said of the reason behind the strike. Currently, TAs at the university earn a salary of $4,100, while tuition is $5,100. Tuition release means the TAs would be paid at least the amount of their tuition.

Swayze explained concerns about employment benefits and job security were also contentious issues. "We're ready to talk and we're waiting for them to call us," Swayze said.

Jane Stirling, media relations officer with U of T, said the university is firmly standing behind it's final offer which was presented to the TA union on Dec. 6. "The university remains ready to negotiate," she said.

While both sides continue to strongly maintain their positions, lab and tutorial sections, as well as some TA-taught classes, have been rescheduled or cancelled to accommodate the strike.

Stephanie Pagani, a third-year sociology and political science student, said almost all of her classes have been affected. "Due dates have been pushed back and rearranged. All my tutorials have been cancelled," she said. "Profs in the poli sci department have refused to mark stuff."

Because the 2,400 members of CUPE local 3902 are employed at all campuses, upheavals are being felt throughout the city and are affecting all U of T students, Swayze said.

"[The] Mississauga campus was closed for the second day," he said. "There are traffic backups of up to one and a half, to two hours," Swayze added.

Stirling disagreed with both Pagani and Swayze, saying while a few labs had been shut down, students were still being instructed to attend classes. "There's been a minimal impact on students to this point," she said. "It's business as usual." Stirling also said the university is in the process of rescheduling the affected tutorials and classes.

The university was also in negotiations with CUPE local 3261 last night, which represents 240 part-time and 561 full-time caretakers and service workers at U of T.

Mehdi Kouhestaninejad, president of Local 3261, said his members have been in negotiations with university management since August discussing job security, wages and the issue of contracting work to outside groups.

He said his group was very supportive of the TA strike, adding the university should negotiate with both unions. "Students will definitely be affected," he said.

Stirling said she could not comment on these talks as they were still taking place, but added the university was currently making a contingency plan in case of another strike.


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Copyright The Gazette 2000