U of T, striking teaching assistants reach tentative agreement
The University of Toronto has reached a tentative deal with the union representing its teaching assistants, who have been on strike for almost three weeks.
The TAs, who are members of Unit 1 of CUPE 3902, have scheduled a ratification vote on Friday, and will continue to walk the picket lines until then, a union spokesperson said.
A massive rally at the Scarborough campus on Thursday is still going ahead.
“We are very pleased that we have reached a tentative agreement,” said Cheryl Regehr, U of T’s vice-president and provost, in a written statement.
Abdullah Shihipar, president of the Arts and Science Student Union, said he is “cautiously optimistic that the strike will come to an end” but said regardless of the outcome, “the damage has been done. We lost three weeks of the term and students are not going to get that back.”
In some classes, assignments were removed, so students will soon be dealing with exams or evaluations that are more heavily weighted in their final marks, he added.
“I hope the university has learned its lesson and avoids this in the future, because undergrads have paid the price.”
News of the tentative agreement came after a huge protest held by undergraduate students at noon on Wednesday.
Unit 1 of CUPE 3902 represents 6,000 TAs, lab demonstrators, exam invigilators and graduate students who teach courses.
It is widely believed the tentative agreement was not unanimously endorsed by the union’s bargaining team.
A statement from CUPE said the members “have been on strike since February 27 in an effort to secure improvements to poverty-level funding and precarious working conditions” but would not divulge any details of the tentative deal.
However, several grad students took to Twitter, saying the agreement bumps up a $ 15,000 funding package to $ 17,500 for some.
Liam Fox, who helped organize Wednesday’s student walkout, said he had hoped the strike would last another couple of weeks because that might help bring about “structural change” at the university.
“It’s frustrating, but I think it will be nice for it to be over in a lot of ways, too.”
At the end of February, teaching assistants at U of T rejected a deal reached by their union and walked off the job, shutting down tutorials, labs and some classes at all three campuses.
At York University, teaching and graduate assistants remain on strike. At both universities, contract faculty have reached settlements.
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