Students Support their TAs and Sessionals' Strike Mandate

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

On Tuesday, February 28th, the members of CUPE 3913, the union representing over 1200 Teaching Assistants and Sessional Lecturers at the University of Guelph, voted overwhelmingly to give a strike mandate to their bargaining team.

CUPE 3913 has been negotiating a new Collective Agreement with the University of Guelph since October 2005. 3913's members have been working without a Collective Agreement since their previous agreement expired August 31 2005. 3913's membership authorized the strike vote at a general members meeting on December 1st, 2005.

"It proves to us what we've been telling the university all along," said Toni Xerri, 3913's Chief Negotiator. "Our proposals are our members' proposals and our members have been behind them all the way. Now they have shown that they're behind this bargaining team

"What we do next depends on the University. Hopefully this vote will convince the University to stop the delaying tactics and reach a settlement that both parties can live with," Xerri said. "The University has to understand that our members are ready, able and willing to walk. The ball is now in the University's court."

"Students support this 'yes' vote for many reasons," said Scott Gilbert, External Affairs Commissioner at the Central Student Association (CSA).

"Undergraduate TAs are also members of the CSA as well as 3913, so obviously we are concerned about issues that impact them while they are students," said Gilbert. "One significant concern is that tuition fee increases this fall will claw back any wage increases."

"We're also supportive because many of the issues facing 3913's members are also issues that pertain to quality of education and therefore to all undergraduate students -- issues like class sizes, health and safety concerns, and Sessional and TA to student ratios."

"This is the strongest strike mandate 3913 has ever had," said Hannah Draper, Communications Commissioner at the CSA. "This shows that TAs and Sessionals are getting fed up and that they realize that current conditions are unacceptable. The issues on the table are simple issues of fairness -- it is disturbing that the University is taking so long to address them."

"By voting 'yes', TAs and Sessionals are standing up for their rights and for the right of students to have a quality post-secondary education."

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