Local labour groups gathered on Concrete Beach on April 10 to show support for the union representing teaching assistants, PSAC Local 610, with a potential strike on the horizon at Western University.
TAs are set to vote on whether or not to accept the latest offer from Western's administration. The vote will be held on April 11 and 12, and TAs will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on April 13. PSAC 610 is pushing for real wage increases, extended TAships and tuition rebates, among other items.
Speakers at the event pledged their support to teaching assistants, should they go on strike. Speeches were made by representatives from the Fanshawe College's faculty and staff unions as well as Western's Society of Graduate Students, the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, the London chapter of the Council of Canadians and the London and District Labour Council.
Many speakers criticized the ways in which Western's administration has gone about handling these negotiations.
"If Western's administration will behave the way they have in this negotiation, they will do it to every other group on campus, and we cannot allow that to happen," said Stephen Pitel, president of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association.
UWOFA is about to enter into negotiations of their own, with their current collective agreement set to expire on June 30, 2018.
In a March 28 email to students, Western provost Janice Deakin wrote "we value the work of GTAs, and we have worked hard towards and reasonable and responsible collective agreement that reflects their employment role and the fiscal realities that exist in the post-secondary sector in the province."
In a tweet today, Deakin said Western will not force TAs to strike with a lock out; she said the university seeks a negotiated settlement.
Economics PhD student and PSAC Local 610 president Shannon Potter does not believe Western's current offer is adequate.
"Our recommendation is that they vote no," said Potter.