500 signatures reached
To: University of Toronto President Meric Gertler and members of the U of T Governing Council
Support paid sick days for all U of T employees
Currently, about a third (34%) of workers at U of T represented by USW Local 1998, as well as a sizable number represented by other unions, have no paid sick days, and only a small percentage of those who are members of USW 1998’s Casual Unit qualify to take advantage of the University’s Staff Wellness Days.
With the broad and growing demand for paid sick days coming from health care workers, public health officials and a wide variety of community groups, the University of Toronto has an opportunity to show leadership on this vital issue. In 2017, the University and the unions on campus negotiated a $15 minimum wage for workers on campus, well in advance of a legislated increase. As one of the largest employers in Toronto, the University once again can set the trend by stepping up to provide paid sick days for all of its employees.
We strongly urge you to negotiate a new collective agreement with the University’s casual employees represented by United Steelworkers Local 1998 (Casual Unit) that immediately provides them with at least two paid sick days.
We further urge that paid sick days be extended to all other U of T employees currently without such benefit.
Why is this important?
The University of Toronto likes to publicize its ranking as one of Canada’s top 100 employers. However, the truth is, in any given month, U of T, one of the richest (if not the richest) publicly funded education institutions in the country, hires more than 5,000 people on casual contracts – many working at or near full-time hours – with no guarantee of hours of work, no health benefits and no paid sick days.
The University administration recently granted support staff three temporary, paid “Staff Wellness Days.” However, only a small percentage of those on casual contracts actually qualify for such paid leave. There exists at U of T and other post-secondary institutions an ingrained staff stratification where University management, with their inflated salaries and perks, argue that workers on casual contracts, many of whom are also students, somehow don’t deserve the health and income protections afforded by paid sick days.
When sick and without paid sick days, these workers must make the difficult choice of going without income or else potentially infecting their fellow workers by going in to work. No person, especially during a global pandemic, should have to make such a choice.
Right now, the union that represents many of these workers – United Steelworkers Local 1998 (Casual Unit) – is currently bargaining with U of T management, and one of the asks is paid sick days. Based on our initial meetings, we are expecting the University’s negotiators to reject this reasonable and necessary proposal.
This is not what we should expect from a “model” employer. As one of the biggest employers in Toronto and amid a growing call for paid sick days for all, the U of T administration has an opportunity to show leadership on this issue and implement paid sick days for all employees at U of T. To that end, we encourage you – whether or not you are a part of the U of T community – to sign the petition.
How it will be delivered
Once we've reached our goal, we plan on e-mailing the signatures to President Gertler and Governing Council members, and issue a news release.