U of T cuts TAs' classes
Law school ups average in national magazine poll
Quicker than a ray of light
Fund-raising up to par, but stadium remains unnamed
Western crimes still conventional
Coke's advertisements a sign of changing times
U of T cuts TAs' classes
By John Intini
While the fire barrels remained blazing to keep the University of Toronto's 2,400 striking Teaching Assistants warm, a decision by the school's administration has the potential to severely burn students.
On Friday, administration at U of T announced the cancellation of 47 half-credit classes scheduled for the spring term, said U of T's vice-provost David Cook. All of the classes cancelled were to be taught by the school's TAs, who are currently enduring a second week on the picket lines, Cook added.
"It is not the university's desire to take work away from the TAs," he said. "Hopefully this will speed up the process of coming to a settlement."
Cook said students enrolled in cancelled classes can request a full refund or find alternative courses. A number of new courses have been added to the school's course calendar and the add/drop date has been pushed back until this Friday.
Mikael Swayze, chief negotiator with the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3902, which represents the striking TAs, described the cancelling of classes as both regrettable and premature. Swayze said the move will make reaching a collective agreement with the TAs even more difficult. "There is no work to come back to," he said. "Why would you sign an agreement when there isn't any work to do?"
Swayze also said he was confused with the university's decision to push back the add/drop date. "Students who pick up a course by Friday will have already missed three weeks of class," he said. "I think if [administration] spent less time and energy on cancelling classes and more on trying to get an agreement, we would have one by now."
Swayze said the union has not been contacted since the TAs began picketing last Monday. The last offer, deemed unfit by the union, was issued in early December. "We're open to talks, but it seems administration is just playing games," he said.
The union is asking, among other things, for an improvement of the TA's average salary which currently sits at $4,100. Graduate school tuition climbed to $5,100 this year, Swayze said.
Cook said the university's labour agreement with the school's 561 full-time caretakers and service workers which was ratified Friday is a clear indication the school is open to negotiate.
Ian Morrison, a fourth-year international affairs student at U of T, said although he had a French class cancelled, he sides with the TAs. "Having the class cancelled is just a small inconvenience for me, but these are their jobs," he said, adding he will simply get his money back and add another course to his schedule next year.