Strike settlement reached at St. Mike's College

  • November 22, 2012

School is in for winter at St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.

The college's 38 sessional lecturers, teaching assistants and continuing education instructors, who have been on strike the last week, reached a tentative agreement with university administrators at 2:00 a.m. Thursday morning, Nov. 22.

On the CUPE Local 3902 web site the union's bargaining team requested that the St. Michael's staff go back to work immediately.  

A ratification vote will be held by write-in ballot until the end of the day Friday.

Under the tentative agreement union members with a certain amount of experience will receive preference in awarding new teaching contracts, the union bargaining chief told The Catholic Register. Job security for contract employees was the major issue that sent the union out to the picket lines Nov. 15.

A day earlier, Celtic Mythology lecturer Daniel Brielmaier, speaking for CUPE Local 3902 Unit 4, said student papers weren't getting marked and some classes had been cancelled.

"Students are feeling an impact,"he said. "We don't like that they're feeling it."

St. Mike's administration claimed the strike hadn't been felt by very many students.

"The effect is relatively small at this point," said Robert Edgett, the executive director of alumni affairs and development who is acting as media liaison for the Catholic college at the University of Toronto. "But our concern continues to be for students. We want to be sure that their term and exams are held. That's why we're working so hard to come to some resolution."

Talks had been delayed a day while the administration worked out a new offer.

The union, which represents academic staff on contracts of less than 12 months, was pushing for a greater degree of job security. The mostly younger academics wanted a right of first refusal if their course is being offered again.

The system of repeat short-term contracts with no assurance of future work has been hardest on theology lecturers, many of whom have been teaching the same course for years but never know whether they will work again next year, said Brielmaier.

"We just want to get a contract and go back to teaching," said Local 3902 chair Abe Nasirzadeh.

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