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Since October 2023, CUPE Locals 1230, 3261 and 3902 have collaborated on a unified bargaining campaign to voice our shared demands, and the employer has taken notice. Our employer, the University of Toronto, prefers when its workers and different bargaining units are disconnected from one another, but we know that we are stronger together. That’s why we continue to fight collectively for what we deserve!

Management still demonstrating a lack of urgency at the table

CUPE 1230, 3261, and 3902 have been proactively presenting robust proposal packages at their respective bargaining tables. The employer, however, has yet to match our energy and sense of urgency. Thus far, they’ve mostly presented verbal responses, and have offered very few written responses and counter-proposals. Our workers continue to demand respect and dignity in the workplace – and that includes at the negotiating table. Over two months ago, CUPE 1230, 3261, and 3902 filed for conciliation together, to show the employer how seriously we take our demands, and to request that they do the same. How much longer will it take for the employer to be ready to present serious offers?

CUPE 3261 and CUPE 3902 turn up the temperature!

On Thursday, February 8th, 2024, members of CUPE 3261 and 3902 gathered on the steps of Convocation Hall for a press conference to deliver a message to the University of Toronto: our workers demand respect, dignity, and a living wage!

To demonstrate this commitment, and their dissatisfaction with the employer’s slow movement at the table, CUPE 3261 and 3902 also announced an important development: that same morning, both locals requested that their Conciliation Officer file a no-board report with the Ministry of Labour. Once received by the Ministry of Labour, this begins a 17-day countdown until the 8,000+ workers in CUPE 3261 and CUPE 3902 are in a legal strike or lockout position. At the press conference, several speakers from CUPE 3261 and CUPE 3902 relayed some of the difficulties that their workers face with financial precarity and lack of workplace respect, while also highlighting the power of cross-Local solidarity. CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn also addressed the crowd at the press conference. “There’s something brewing here at U of T,” Hahn said. “There’s something going on when TAs, and postdocs, and caretakers, and food service workers all recognize that they are in the same struggle together, and that by standing together it is their best chance to make things better here at U of T, both for themselves and for the students who attend this university.”

What’s next?

Last Wednesday, February 7th, CUPE 3902 Unit 1 and Unit 5 held a joint-GMM to share the latest bargaining updates with their membership, and to initiate a Strike Mandate vote. An overwhelming majority of members at the meeting voted in favour of initiating strike votes for each unit, and these votes are now underway. Similarly, CUPE 3261 will be launching their Strike Mandate voting period this Sunday, February 18th, which closes on Thursday, February 22nd. The Strike Mandate vote does not automatically trigger a strike, but it asks the members of their respective units to grant their Local the ability to call for a labour action, up to and including a strike, if strategically necessary in order to reach a fair contract. A strong majority “YES” vote puts each Local and Unit in the strongest possible position at the bargaining table, and lets U of T know that its workers are united in their demand for respect, dignity, and a living wage. CUPE 1230 just held a special Bargaining Updating Meeting for its members on Thursday, February 15th to discuss where negotiations are at, and the plan to win the best possible work contracts for FTPT and Student Casual workers.

Meet your coworkers!

“I love working at UofT and in the library. As a result of the incredible and difficult work of past CUPE 1230 bargaining members at the negotiation table I enjoy many benefits. Our collective and unified voice in this round of bargaining is something I am truly proud to see from the CUPEs on campus.”

Richard Hydal, CUPE 1230
Information Technology Systems Support Specialist, Digital Library Unit, Information Technology Services

“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. My colleagues and I have been clear about our concerns and demands, and have put together thoughtful and reasonable proposals to present to our employer. This round of bargaining my coworkers and I are working together to address institutional inequities. Our employer may try to deny our collective power, but we continue to show the power of our collective action!”

Lily Ziyue Zhang, CUPE 3902
Co-Lead Negotiator, Unit 1 Bargaining Committee,
Teaching Assistant, UTM Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment

“Postdocs come from all over the world, country, and province to produce cutting-edge research and provide world-class teaching that bolsters U of T’s rankings and reputation, but U of T provides no financial support for relocating to the GTA or traveling to conferences to present our research. An employer that respects our invaluable contributions should not allow us to plunge further into financial precarity and debt while they benefit from our labour.”

Federica Berdini, CUPE 3902
Co-Lead Negotiator, Unit 5 Bargaining Committee
Former Postdoc at the Centre for Ethics

“Join me in voting YES to approve a strike mandate for CUPE 3261. This is the best way we can show U of T we deserve respect and dignity. Vote YES and let’s show U of T that we are united behind the demands at the bargaining table.”

Steven Villada, CUPE 3261
Athletic Facility Assistant, St. George Campus

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