Mar 03, 2015
By Jane Brown
Canada’s two largest universities have been hit by strikes at the same time.
Teaching assistants and contract faculty at York University are walking off the job today, following TA’s at U of T who went on strike yesterday.
And while classes continue at the University of Toronto, most classes and exams are cancelled at York University since the striking members represent about 64 percent of teaching staff. Facilities at York U will remain open.
Erin Black is the chair of the union representing the striking TA’s at U of T. She told the New AM 740’s Goldhawk Fights Back, the public is being misled about how the workers are compensated. She says in the last contract, TAs were making $42.05 an hour which she admits, sounds impressive, but isn’t really.
“Most of the members work for that $15,000 (annually) funding package. There are limits as to how much they can be required to work, so that is a good thing. But most of the work that our members do goes toward that $15,000, so the $42.05 an hour, you don’t actually see that as real money. It’s just the part of the overall funding package,” Black explained to Goldhawk, who asked her how many hours they would work in a week. “It would depend on one’s individual contract,” Black continued, “teaching assistants, probably the average is ten hours a week.”
A strike by York University’s TA’s and contract faculty shut down classes for 3 months back in 2008-2009, and ultimately ended only on back to work orders from Queens Park.