Workers Demand Better from the Nation’s Richest University

TORONTO, Oct. 25, 2021 – Casual workers at the University of Toronto are seeking better treatment from the nation’s richest university as they head into bargaining a new collective agreement, says the United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 1998.

Among the top asks for the bargaining unit of about 3,500 casual workers are paid sick days and better language on job security. Casual workers include a wide range of administrative staff in all areas of the University who work on short-term or part-time contracts and are represented by USW Local 1998. Despite the intention that casual contracts are less than six months, many casual workers are on extended contracts and some have been employed with the university for years.

“This bargaining round, we are demanding better treatment for casual workers. Our members who work as casual staff, work alongside full-time workers on the same projects, programs and departments,” said Colleen Burke, President of USW Local 1998. “The only difference in this situation is that casual workers don’t have paid sick days as the full-time worker beside them does.”

Some departments at the university rely on a revolving door of temporary workers with no paid sick days or job security.

“The University of Toronto is the richest university in Canada. Meanwhile, casual workers like me are having to decide between going into work sick or not paying our bills,” added Scott Eldridge, a casual employee at the university for 19 years. “You’d think we would have learned a thing or two about not going to work sick during a pandemic.”

In addition to paid sick days, the union is prioritizing a better path for casual employees to convert to full-time staff, the ability to apply as internal candidates for U of T jobs and require departments to post full-time jobs and stop the overuse of temporary jobs.

“We hope to achieve our bargaining goals with the university in this bargaining round. Providing paid sick days and securing jobs at the university is the basic level of fairness for casual workers,” Burke said.

USW Local 1998 represents over 8,000 administrative and technical workers at the University of Toronto, Victoria University, University of St. Michael’s College and University of Toronto Schools, including approximately 3,500 casual employees.


For further information:

Colleen Burke, USW Local 1998 President, 647-883-2678, colleen.burke@usw1998.ca
Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), sdevine@usw.ca

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