author: kristian ferguson | news editor
yup, that’s a strikin’ / jeremy davis
RPIRG and CUPE 2419 team up
On Nov. 21, Canadian Union of Public Employees [CUPE] 2419 held a rally in collaboration with the Regina Public Interest Research Group [RPIRG] in order to, as the title of their rally suggests, “Freeze Tuition, Not Wages.”
Tuition was raised for the 2018-19 year by 2.8 per cent and has risen by 36 per cent since 2008.
2008 also happens to mark the last year of a previous tuition freeze.
The Carillon was able to interview Julian Wotherspoon, a third-year health studies major and the Outreach and Events Coordinator for RPIRG, about the recent rally.
“The event was supporting CUPE 2419 which is the union that supports RA’s and TA’s who work here on campus,” said Wotherspoon. “We know RA’s and TA’s are also students, so they are stuck between rising tuition as well as stagnant wages.”
The importance of the event came from showing that there was someone else besides the membership of CUPE 2419 that cared and supported them.
“We really wanted to get involved to show solidarity and really show the university that we see what they are doing and know what they are doing,” said Wotherspoon. “We won’t be fooled by divide-and-conquer narratives that better wages for our teaching staff will mean higher tuition costs for us.”
The rally was organized in a high-traffic area in order to garner more attention for the cause.
“The Ad-Hum pit was where we gathered and we had some speeches from various organizations and various students. To make sure we got people’s attention, we marched from the Ad-Hum pit to the Riddell Centre and back,” said Wotherspoon.
“There was [sic] drums, there was chanting, and a lot of information was handed out. It was a very effective way of making sure that people learned about something that they might not have in their otherwise busy lives.”
Wotherspoon, and by extension RPIRG, hoped that their presence at the rally would be something the university considers when they meet with the union.
“Obviously with RA’s and TA’s at the bargaining table right now, we hope that this show of solidarity will help with their bargaining,” said Wotherspoon.
“They have been without a contract and without a wage increase for a while now and the university is suggesting more wage freezes. We are hoping that the university will give up on that proposal.”
Looking toward the future, RPIRG is hoping to see students get more involved in politics and their university community.
“We would really like to see more action taking place, more students who, instead of watching tuition continue to go up, mobilize a bit more. That’s what RPIRG wants to do, support students who want to take action,” said Wotherspoon.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. It can seem hopeless and big but we know that collective action is the only thing that has ever made a difference.”
For the future, RPIRG has no plans on giving up the fight.
“Tuition is something we are going to keep talking about. We are looking for more ways for students to take action not only on this particular topic but on anything environment or social justice related as well,” said Wotherspoon.
“We love it when people drop into our office and ask for our help to organize something.”