Volume 94, Issue 5


Harris gives private U's thumbs up

Galleria welcomes 2,400 new jobs

UWOFA, admin wrap up a deal

Knife proposal seeks mandatory jail-time

Feds give prof $50,000 for stripper hunt

Ontario pollution hits all time high

U of T Bookstore hits the picket lines

Where have all the Christians gone?


U of T Bookstore hits the picket lines

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

Labour strife is again plaguing the University of Toronto.

Approximately 100 employees of the U of T Bookstore took to the picket lines June 7, as negotiations between university administration and their union broke down.

This latest strike comes only 5 months after 2,400 teaching assistants walked off the job to protest their own failing negotiations with university administration.

Mehdi Kouhestaninejad, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3261, who represents the striking employees, said the group has been negotiating with the U of T press, the arm of administration which oversees the bookstore, since Jan 10.

The two sides have had three periods of conciliation and after the latest round on June 6 and 7, Kouhestaninejad said the union decided to strike.

The striking employees are requesting salary parity with workers at the York University bookstore who earn between $8.50 and $10.00 per hour, he said, adding employees are also seeking increased job security and a better grievance process. Of the 100 employees walking the picket lines, 95 per cent are students working to pay for their tuition, he added.

Kouhestaninejad described the U of T Press as "miserly" but said the community has been very supportful of the workers' cause. "We have lots of community support," he said. "But it could be a long strike."

Katherine Bennett, senior VP-administration for the U of T Press, said salary parity with York University could not be achieved because the situation at Toronto differs from that at York.

The U of T press is separate from the university, in that, they receive no university funding and are a not-for-profit company, Bennett explained. In addition to handling the book store, the company handles book publication and distribution which generate large costs.

Because of this, the U of T Bookstore cannot compete with other university bookstores and instead must aim to compete with other retail stores in the Toronto area, Bennett explained.

She said the U of T press has offered wages of $7.25 to $7.35 with raises of $0.35 cents per year, available in subsequent years, with a cap of $8.30. In order to raise wages anymore, the costs would be passed on to customers and in turn employees would suffer, Bennett explained

"We'd just have to raise prices, which would then lead our customers to go to our competition," she said.

Rebecca Dolgoy, university affairs commissioner for the Student Administrative Council at U of T, said the council has thrown their support behind the striking workers.

"At present, SAC has voted to support the bookstore workers," she said. "Most of the employees are students and they rely on this job to pay their way through school."

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