The decision to strike was made just days after adjunct professors across the U.S. and Canada held an international walkout day. Meanwhile, pledges of solidarity for the striking Canadian workers continue to come from students as well as their tenured peers.

The strikes at the two schools occurred in rapid succession. On February 27, the 6,000 members of CUPE 3902 voted overwhelming to reject an offer from the University of Toronto and pickets commenced on March 2.

“Our members have spoken overwhelmingly. They have said we are poor, precarious, and we need an increase in our standard of living,” said CUPE 9302 chair Erin Black. The consensus of the membership, Black added, is that “people felt disrespected by U of T administration, and they require compensation which reflects the high standard of instruction our members provide.”

Just three days later, members of CUPE 3903 commenced their strike against York University.

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As CUPE 3902 member Christina Turner noted in a Rabble blog post last week, mainstream media coverage of the strike has misrepresented the demands of the striking workers.

“Yes, TA work is part-time. But it is part-time work undertaken by full-time students with the understanding that it provide us with job training as academics, and help us pay our bills while we complete our dissertations,” Turner writes. “The University requires graduate students in order to maintain its status as a world-class research institution. They have a responsibility to ensure that their graduate students are able to live at a basic minimum standard while carrying out their research and teaching duties.”

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