VANCOUVER—CUPE Local 2278 members hit the bricks today, picketing outside the Jack Bell building on campus at UBC. The job action started at 3pm, when their 72-hour strike notice took effect. The Canadian Union of Public Employees local represents 2,300 teaching assistants, tutors, markers and language assistants at the University of British Columbia.
CUPE 2278 president Trish Everett says today’s picket line is only the start and that more job action will follow until they have a deal. Everett says the local is still waiting to make progress on two key issues: a tuition waiver to counter steadily rising tuition fees and job security for student employees in their final years as grad students that acknowledges the extra time it takes to complete a degree.
The union has been in negotiations for more than two years and in mediation since April. The last contract expired in 2010. The two other CUPE locals at UBC have already reached collective agreements with the university. CUPE 2950 led the way with the first tentative agreement at UBC, followed by CUPE 116. CUPE 2950 has ratified its new agreement while CUPE 116 is still in the process of a member ratification vote.