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University of Toronto staff vote 95.4% in favour of strike action, if necessary

September 4, 2023

TORONTO – Members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 1998’s staff-appointed unit at the University of Toronto have sent a strong message to the university, voting 95.4% in favour of going on strike, if necessary.  Members voted to give their elected negotiating committee the right to call for job action, up to and including a strike.

The strike deadline is this Thursday, September 7 at 12:01 a.m. 

The 5,800-person staff-appointed group at the University of Toronto includes workers who provide administrative and technical support to faculty, students and other members of the university community.

“We are coming out of a three-year moderation period under Bill 124, where our wages and benefits were suppressed to a 1% increase,” said Tamara Vickery, President of the staff-appointed unit. “This moderation period, which was ruled unconstitutional and coincided with high inflation, had profound negative affects on our membership. During the pandemic and under Bill 124, our members kept the university working and the university now needs to recognize that fact by agreeing to fair wage increases.”

Bill 124 was introduced by the PC Ford government in 2019 and limited compensation increases, including salaries, pensions and benefits, for millions of unionized broader public sector workers in Ontario to 1% for three-year periods, a rate far below inflationary rise in the cost of living.

 “Our members are also seeking improvements in workload and alternative work arrangements,” said Vickery. “The university is offering a one size-fits all solution for a very diverse group of 5,800 workers and it is simply not acceptable.”

USW Local 1998 represents 10,000 workers at the University of Toronto.

“The strong strike vote is a clear vote of confidence from our membership,” said John Ankenman, USW Local 1998 President. “Our local union is committed to getting an agreement at the bargaining table, but our strike committee will remain prepared in case we get to the point of job action.”

The USW represents 225,000 members in nearly every economic sector across Canada and is the largest private-sector union in North America with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW because of its strong track record in creating healthier, safer and more respectful workplaces and negotiating better working conditions and fairer compensation – including better wages, benefits and pensions.

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Media Contact

For more information, please contact:

Shannon Devine, USW Communications, or cell: 416-938-4402

John Ankenman, USW Local 1998, cell: 416-578-5424

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