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Strike looming at U of T Bookstore

>From: "Anne Brackenbury" <abrack@myna.com>
>The latest from the University of Toronto Press Front!
>Dear progressives,
>Here is  a  run-down on what is happening with an important labour
>dispute at the University of Toronto.
>The part-time workers at the University of Toronto bookstore, who
>recently organized with The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
>local 3261, are being forced on strike this wednesday June 7th. Management 
>has consistently refused to accept the existance of a union by firing and 
>harrassing activists as well as breaking off negotiations. Their last 
>"offer" was to cut(!) our wages to the legal minimun wage of $6.85/hr, as 
>well as no seniority provisions, no grievance procedures, and an entire 
>list of anti- union measures designed to break this union.

>This is especially disgusting as the U of T Press, which owns the
>bookstore, is entirely owned by U of T. The sole purpose of U of T
>press is to fund the huge money losing venture of U of T's scholarly
>publishing: the vast University of Toronto Press line of books, as
>well as the large assortment of jounals that U of T publishes. This
>is important to the U of T as it gives it an international academic
>prestige and publicity that helps make it "the Harvard of the North"
>(not my words) as well as the richest university in Canada, with
>over $3.5 billion in the bank from it's fundraising campaigns. The
>University reaps the rewards from this by being able to attract big
>name scholars, researchers, students, and lots of money!
>The bookstore, where I work, is THE BIG money maker for the press,
>with all the profits going to academic publishing, WHICH BENEFITS NO
>Our Union feels that one of the strongest tactics we can use is
>embarrassing U of T and U of T Press into bargaining fairly with us. We
>believe that if the wider community knows that a good part of U of
>T's academic prestige and all it's scholarly publishing is funded
>directly by union busting and the exploitaion, victimization, and
>harrasssment of  young workers that they will be forced backed to
>the bargaining table. Already we have seen small results from this
>strategy. The Vice Provost of U of T, one of the people we are
>asking people to contact, has sent our union a letter stating that
>he is optimisitc that things will be resolved quickly. This happened
>ONLY becasue he received over 100 letters in the last week by people
>stating that they were disgusted with their treatment of this
>affair. One of the letters came from none other than Noam Chomsky.
>We have also begun the process of asking profs to withold their fall
>textbook orders untill U of T and UTP start bargaining fairly with
>us. As for picket lines, rest assured we will have daily picket
>lines and a large rally every Thursday where we will try to stop
>scabs and customers from going in. I am going to be blunt: WE NEED ALL 
>YOUR HELP!!!! WE am imploring each
>and every one of you to help. Here's what we are asking each and everyone 
>who reads this to do:
>(1) contact (email, phone, fax) George Meadows and Catherine Bennet
>from UTP (see their emails below) as well as Michael Finlayson (vice
>provost at U of T, email is below) expressing your disgust  with
>both U of T's & U of T press' conduct in this matter with the
>part-time bookstore worker's.  Tell them that you will tell others
>not to go  to U of T, will not donate money to U of T, whatever it takes!
>As well, tell them that you will not order UTP books or buy anything from
>the bookstore until they sit down and negotiate fairly. Don't forget to CC a
>copy to our union.
>(2) Pass this on to any and all and push them to do the same!! This
>is crucial.
>(3) for those in Toronto ,join our picket lines. The # at our strike
>HQ is 599-9997.
>(4) if you are in a union or any other group, please get your
>group to formally endorse our struggle. As well, get your group to
>pass the word!!
>your active support and your work getting others to actively support us 
>can seriously weaken management and get them to bargain fairly. Already 
>our strategy is starting to pay small dividends. Last week our union 
>received a letter from the Vice Provost at U of T stating that he has 
>spoken to management at the Press, something he has squarely refused to do 
>before.U of T and the Press are extremely image sensitive. Already we have 
>caused some nicks in their union busting armour, but more is needed.

>If  solidarity is to mean anything in this new millenium, I urge you
>to help our local in every conceivable way that you can. Please help
>us stop union busting at the University of Toronto.
>Paul Lykotrafitis
>CUPE local 3261
>Below is the contact info for the people I have asked you to
>contact, as well as  our unions press release.
>Michael Finlayson (Vice Provost, U of T)
>phone# (416) 978 4865, fax 978 2592
>George Meadows (Prez U of T Press)
>phone# (416) 978-2239, ext 222, fax 978 4738
>Katherine Bennet (Senior VP at U of T Press)
>phone # (416) 9782239, ext224, fax 978 4738
>Remember to CC to our union
>  <mailto:service.workers@utoronto.ca>service.workers@utoronto.ca
>Dear Members,
>Please take the time to read the following message from CUPE 3261. If
>you have any questions forward them to  service.workers@utoronto.ca or 
>**NOTE it is the part-time workers at the bookstore who are in a
>legal strike position and not our Local)
>The negotiations between CUPE 3261 part-time U of T Bookstore Union
>who represent about 100 employees and the University of Toronto Press
>(UTP)  have reached a deadlock. The conciliation process has recently 
>broken off, and the employer has applied for a No-Board Report (we are in 
>a legal strike position/lockout 17 days after it being filed).  It was 
>officially filed by the conciliator on Thursday, May 18 meaning we will be 
>in a legal strike position on Sunday, June 4.  On Monday, May 15th we held 
>a strike vote with the part-time staff and  89%  of our members voted yes. 
>WE HAVE A SOLID STRIKE MANDATE. We, the part-time employees of the U of T 
>bookstores feel that our employers have treated us unfairly and need the 
>help and support our fellow brothers and sisters.Some of the issues we 
>have right now are as follows:

>  Grievance Procedures: Our employers are asking for sole discretion
>over the entire grievance procedure process. The UTP demands excessively 
>restrictive language that would limit the union's ability to defend its 
>Seniority: Our employer refuses to recognize it.
>Wages: Our employer has offered the part-timers a lower wage than we
>already have. Currently we make $7.25/hour....Now our employers have 
>offered new part-timers a starting rate of $6.85/hour. (minimum wage). 
>Current employees will have their wages frozen.
>Union Busting: The employers want to expand the temporary employee
>probationary period from 3 to 4 months, and prevent them from joining
>the union. This essentially means that they can hire people at will, and
>then fire them before they become part of the union. By doing this they 
>can save even more money, because they will be paying them 40 cents less 
>per hour.
>Please e-mail the following people with a cc to
>or fax them to our local office at 416 340-9553
>President of U of T Press: George Meadows:
>Senior Vice-President of U of T Press: Kathryn Bennett:
>fax: 416 978 4738
>On behalf of the bargaining members we the bargaining team would like
>to thank you for your support.

>Mehdi Kouhestaninejad
>Local 3261, Canadian Union of Public Employees
>University of Toronto Service Workers
>1 Spadina Crescent room 202
>Toronto, Ontario  M5S 2J5
>Phone 416 340 7844
>Fax 416 340 9553

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