Volume 93, Issue 66

Thursday, January 27, 2000


Heaton drops from USC prez race

Default rate shows decline

Failed talks spart protest at U of T

Study reveals new HIV concerns

MP has his Day on campus

Braun to introduce "beef boards"

Brebner takes logical approach



Caught on campus

Failed talks spart protest at U of T

By John Intini
Gazette Staff

Approximately 200 of the University of Toronto's striking Teaching Assistants took part in a protest Tuesday, responding to the recent break in negotiations between the school's administration and the TAs' union.

The TAs filled the second floor of the Hart House building, located on the downtown campus, in an effort to disrupt the Northrop Frye Award Ceremony by chanting and blocking exits, said strike co-ordinator Chantal Sundaram.

Many of the university's high ranking officials, including the school's president Robert Prichard, were in attendance at the ceremony which was celebrating excellence in teaching and research.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3902, which represents the school's 2,400 striking TAs, met with school administrators Monday, marking the first time the sides had met since the strike began Jan. 7. However, after a day of negotiations the two sides once again parted company without a settlement.

"They came back with the same old offer. It was even a little worse," said union negotiator Mikael Swayze. "The members of the union did not support the one before, so there was no way they would support this one."

U of T's vice-provost, David Cook, who was also one of the school's negotiators, said the offer from the university was exactly the same as the one issued in December.

"They have not taken their original demands off the table," Cook said in reference to the union's demands, but added the school is still open to talks. "Just because one offer is off the table does not mean negotiations are dead."

However, Cook said the university has set a Feb. 1 deadline on the current offer. If the union does not accept the offer it will be removed from the table and negotiations will have to start over, he said. "They really ought to decide whether they want to come back or not," Cook said, adding classes will be restructured on Feb. 4 as planned if there is no agreement.

Cook said the protest at the Hart House building was against the school's code of conduct and may result in disciplinary action for the TAs involved. "They held people hostage," he said. "It was a threatening, intimidating gesture and is not the right way to bargain."

Jane Stirling, manager of U of T's public affairs office, said in response to the protest, Prichard issued a press release in which he expressed anger over the tactics used by the TAs at the award ceremony. He also said negotiations were meant for the bargaining table and was not willing to deal with the group in a public setting.

However, Sundaram said the TAs' protesting behaviour is far from over. A mass picket is planned for today in front of the administration building, which houses the finance and labour relations office. Tomorrow, she said, there will be a rally of 400-500 TAs across campus.

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