In minus twenty weather and on short notice, hundreds joined CUPE 3902 strikers at UofT to demand a fair contract.
“Brrr, it’s cold out here: our funding has been frozen for seven years,” striking Teaching Assistants and Course Instructors chanted. They were joined by the Canadian Federation of Students, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Toronto Steelworkers, teachers, nurses, other CUPE workers, and members of the NDP in a rally on College street. They then marched to Simcoe Hall to speak with the provost Cheryl Regehr, chanting, "1,2,3,4 no one should be working poor. 5,6,7,8, UofT negotiate!".
As a member of the university administration she has received multiple salary increases over the years, while tuition has gone up and those who actually provide the bulk of teaching have been forced to live on $15,000, below the poverty line. As Erin Black, Chair of CUPE 3902 explained, “The University Administration, led by Dr. Regehr, continues to propagate the idea that this is a ‘generous’ deal. We find it peculiar that a person who makes close to a quarter of a million dollars—$247,000 and change to be more precise—suggests that those who do the bulk of the teaching at the University of Toronto should be made to live below the poverty line.”
The administration refused to come outside to discuss, or to get back to the negotiating table. Undaunted, the CUPE 3902 marched from the rally back to their pickets lines. “Why do we strike? We strike to win!” they chanted.
Tomorrow, Friday, there will be a student solidarity picket in support of CUPE 3902 and 3903, 12-2pm at King’s College Circle, and at the rally today OFL president Sid Ryan discussed the possibility of an upcoming rally at Queen’s Park to support both strikes; this can also raise the profile of other local labour struggles, like the more than 17 month strike by Crown workers.