UBC Teaching Assistants Taking Strike Vote

by Stephen Petrina on March 19, 2012

CUPE 2278, the graduate teaching assistants union at the University of British Columbia, is taking a strike vote on Thursday, 22 March.  The bargaining environment for the GTA union has been awful for a number of years.  The current contract dates to 2005 and recent attempts to bargain with UBC have been frustrated by the BC Public Sector Employers’ Council’s “net zero mandate” and the university’s unwillingness to grant the level of respect the GTAs deserve. The union is asking if it is “okay to let an employer profit off your work at a comparatively lower cost and then balance its budget out of your pocket by passing on its expenses?”

The 2005 contract was rolled over in the last round but signs suggest that CUPE 2278 will not roll over again under conditions of exploitation.  The union was forced to a full scale strike in the spring of 2003– a successful strike that reminded students, faculty members, and administrators just how vital GTAs are to the functioning of the University.  As was the case in 2003, CUPE 2278 is currently preparing research-based information for the UBC community and will likely have to counter the employer’s aggressive campaign to malign the GTAs and misinform the campus.