Members of Unit 1 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3902 voted in favour of putting their tentative agreement with U of T to a unit-wide ratification vote at a meeting on March 29. There were 257 votes in favour, 14 against, and six abstentions.
If a simple majority of members vote in favour of ratification, a strike will be averted and the agreement will become the unit’s new collective agreement with the university, running until December 31, 2023. If the vote fails, the Unit 1 bargaining team resumes negotiations with U of T, which could include a strike.
The ratification ballot will be open online to all Unit 1 members on March 30 and run until April 1 at 6:00 pm.
The tentative agreement was signed on March 26 and includes benefits such as increased paid training hours, a strengthened focus on equitable hiring, and permanent access to mental health resources that were opened in response to the pandemic.
CUPE 3902 Unit 1 represents contract academics workers — such as teaching assistants and course instructors — and has been in negotiation with the university for a new collective agreement since November. Unit 1 membership voted to give their bargaining team a strike mandate in February, and the union has been in a legal striking position since March 21.
If ratified, Unit 1 members will also see a one per cent increase in compensation each year. Due to Ontario’s Bill 124 — which was approved in November — salary increases for all public employees are capped at 1 per cent per year.
A university spokesperson wrote to The Varsity prior to the strike vote that they “recognize the important role of employees in the CUPE 3902 Unit 1 bargaining unit in ensuring that the University of Toronto continues to be the leading academic institution in Canada.”
Editor’s note (March 29): This article has been updated to include previous perspective from U of T.