University of Toronto contract staff vote 91 per cent in favour of strike mandate
The University of Toronto campus is pictured on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, November 23, 2017 5:39AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 23, 2017 5:20PM EST
TORONTO -- Contract academic workers at the University of Toronto have given their union a 91 per cent mandate in favour of strike action as they work toward a new contract.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees says the workers include non-student sessional lecturers, writing instructors and music professionals.
CUPE says the key issue is how post-secondary institutions rely on "precarious labour," with sessional lecturers at the university delivering more than 20 per cent of all undergraduate teaching, yet earning less and having little to no job security.
Union official Jess Taylor says after four months of bargaining, they have made some gains at the table in terms of wage increases, but contract workers need a pathway to permanent employment.
The University of Toronto says it's committed to reaching a new collective agreement for the approximately 1,200 sessional instructors.
The two sides are scheduled to resume bargaining on Friday and Taylor says the union hopes the strike mandate message is "well received" by university negotiators.
The university said a key issue is a union proposal that would require the university to "convert" a minimum number of sessional lecturers to full-time teaching and tenure stream faculty positions in each academic year.
CUPE 3902 chairwoman Pamela Arancibia said in a statement that many of its members have been working at the University of Toronto for decades.
"The minimum per-course salary for sessional lecturers is less than $15,000, whereas faculty members earn at least $23,000 for teaching the same courses," Arancibia said.