I’m not a part of the bargaining team, union executive or even a union steward. I’m simply a union member, a course director / teaching assistant who is walking the picket line. Had you asked me four weeks ago if this was something I was going to do, I would have said no. A strike wasn’t even on my horizon: I was interviewing participants for my doctoral research and teaching a first year course. I am on strike now and the issues, as I understand them, are important enough for me to be on strike. Here is why I’m walking the line:
1. Contract Faculty need better Job Security
Currently, contract faculty know that they are employed for 12 weeks at a time, so a contract faculty (any contract faculty–whether they’ve worked one year or twenty) could be let go at the end of their current contract without any warning or impediment.
2. Classes–including lectures and tutorials–need have an improved student to teacher ratio.
For both the quality of education for undergrads and workload for TAs and Course Directors, these ratios should be smaller.
3. Child and Healthcare Funds indexed to to growth in the union.
Our union has increased in size by 28%, so the funds available for childcare have increased accordingly.
4. A wage indexed to Inflation.
In their final offer before strike action, the University offered a wage increase of 3% for 2008-2009. Current inflation is greater than the wage increase, so in a year we would be earning less than we do now.