Coalition of Teaching Assistant Unions holds First Annual Conference

by E Wayne Ross on August 24, 2005

VANCOUVER, Aug. 9 /CNW/ – Teaching Assistant Unions from across Canada
will come together in Vancouver from August 12 – 13, 2005, to share
information and strategies to improve their working conditions and position
themselves to get better contracts. The inaugural meeting of the Canadian
Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions (CCGEU) is set to include discussions of
coordinated bargaining and organizing.

“This conference lays the groundwork for continued cooperation for the
benefit of Teaching Assistants across Canada and the improvement of
post-secondary working conditions for years to come,” explained Elissa Strome,
President of CUPE Local 2278. The local, which represents more than 2,000
Teaching Assistants at the University of British Columbia, is hosting the
meeting. “Teaching Assistants from Newfoundland to Victoria have many issues in
common. Wages, tuition fees, and class sizes are just a few that come to mind.
This conference provides an opportunity to learn from one another and to open
the doors to further communication,” said Kevin Tilley, Chair of the Teaching
Support Staff Union (TSSU) representing more than 1,500 Teaching Assistants
and Sessional Lecturers at Simon Fraser University.

Delegates to the CCGEU meeting represent unionized Teaching Assistants at
14 universities across Canada. They are members of the Canadian Union of
Public Employees, Public Service Alliance of Canada, and independent unions.

Organizers have also invited non-union Teaching Assistant organizations
to attend. “We have a responsibility to aid our colleagues who are working at
universities without the same rights and benefits that we have,” said Archana
Rampure, Chair of CUPE Local 3902. Local 3902 has recently organized 1,000
Sessional Lecturers and now represents some 5,500 Graduate Student Employees
and Sessionals at the University of Toronto.

Teaching Assistants are graduate and undergraduate students who teach
classes, lead labs and tutorials, and mark papers and exams. They do a
significant amount of the teaching at Canadian universities.

For further information: Elissa Strome, president, CUPE Local 2278,
Telephone: (604) 224-2118 or Cell: (778) 883-5068 or email: