The warm rays of the sun appeared just in time for university workers and their supporters to take demands for decent income and job security to the streets of Toronto on Saturday, March 21.
Over two thousand teaching assistants/graduate assistants, on strike now for three weeks at both York University and U of Toronto, first rallied at Dundas Square, and then walked west on Dundas, north on Spadina, east on College and right up to the front steps of the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park.
Stubborn, over-paid university administrators share the blame with the Ontario Liberal government for the disruption of classes at Canada’s two largest post-secondary institutions. Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal regime is guilty of grossly underfunding universities, prompting school head honchos to put more and more of the teaching burden on a poorly paid, precariously-employed, academic work force.
Strikes for social justice have taken hold of Canada’s two largest universities. 6,000 members of Local 3902 (unit 1) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are on legal strike against their employer, the University of Toronto (U of T). “We are poor, precarious, and need improvement in our standard of living,” Union Chair Erin Black said after her members overwhelmingly rejected U of T management’s terms at the end of February. The 3,700 members of CUPE Local 3903 hit the bricks on March 3, taking on their bosses at York University. At a special membership meeting held a day earlier, members voted 71 per cent to reject the university’s last offer and to commence strike action. They want protection against tuition hikes and an end to precarious, one year at a time, teaching contracts.