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U of T president calls for binding arbitration to end TA strike

Teaching assistants at the University of Toronto's downtown campus took to the picket line on March 2, 2015. 680NEWS/Kevin Misener

University of Toronto president Meric Gertler has called for binding arbitration to end the teaching assistant strike.

Gertler said the two sides are at an impasse and that it is time to take a new approach.

“Both sides have worked hard to find a deal. And yet today, after almost four weeks of the strike, we are at an impasse,” he said. “We feel that the time for bargaining has passed.”

 

The union representing the TAs is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday to vote on the proposed binding arbitration.

CUPE officials will also hold a news conference ahead of the meeting.

Watch the live stream of the conference at 11 a.m. on CityNews.ca or 680News.com.

On Sunday, CUPE 3902 members rejected a tentative deal – pushing the strike into its fourth week.

Just over 100 votes separated the yes’s from the no’s, with 1101 members rejecting the offer and 992 voting to accept it. More than 2,000 of the union’s approximately 6,000 teaching assistants cast a ballot in the vote.

The deal proposed a wage increase of 3.75 per cent, to more than $43 per hour. It also offered tuition assistance for senior PhD and masters students.

“We have spoken to the provincial mediator, and through the mediator, to the leadership of the union, and today I am calling upon the union to join us in agreeing to binding arbitration,” said Gertler. “Let us agree to binding arbitration, and let us agree to end the strike, in a way that is respectful of all our students – graduate and undergraduate – and our faculty.”

Gertler said right now enabling the students to graduate on time and ending the strike are his top priorities.

“Time is of the essence as we enter into the final weeks of the semester and prepare for critical year-end exams for our students,” he said. “Let us agree to binding arbitration, and let us agree to end the strike, in a way that is respectful of all our students – graduate and undergraduate – and our faculty.”

Only a handful of classes have been cancelled since the start of the strike.