York University teaching assistants, contract faculty on strike
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Sunday, March 4, 2018 5:49PM EST
Last Updated Monday, March 5, 2018 12:47AM EST
Teaching assistants, contract faculty, and graduate assistants at York University are officially on strike after a midnight deadline came and went with no new contract agreement in place.
CUPE 3903, which represents the workers, told CP24 Sunday that with no new negotiations planned for today, the union will be proceeding with a strike Monday.
“The employer has had six months to engage in serious negotiating. They’ve held very close to their original positions. We’ve let them know repeatedly that that’s not an offer the members are willing to take,” CUPE Spokesperson Kevin Wilson told CP24.
He described York as adopting a “take it or leave it” position.
“So we find ourselves in a situation where the strike action will begin tomorrow unless the employer comes back with an improved offer,” Wilson said Sunday afternoon.
A post on the union’s Twitter account said workers would officially be on strike as of 12:01 a.m. on March 5.
For its part, York has said that it has done everything possible to avoid a strike.
“After six months of bargaining, CUPE 3903 formally rejected York’s best offer Friday,” the university said in a statement on its website. “At the same time, CUPE 3903 announced that its members had passed a motion to allow for bargaining over the weekend.”
However the university said the union handed them a list of 20 “red line” demands for any future offer.
“On March 1, 2018, York provided its best offer as requested by the Union. The union has not made a counter offer nor indicated that they see in the University offer any basis for a settlement,” York said. “The list provided by CUPE 3903 through the mediator is not a counter-offer that could be used to resume negotiations.”
The statement said the two sides are currently “too far apart to reach an agreement.”
The union has been without a contract since August 31, 2017.
Some of the sticking points in the negotiations include wages, more money for childcare subsidies, guaranteed employment for graduate assistants, and the number of tenure stream faculty positions available for graduate students.
The union has said it is planning a press conference at Queen’s Park Monday at 9:30 a.m. and a rally outside York’s main campus at 11:30 a.m., with pickets set to go up on Tuesday.
The university has said that campus will remain open during the strike and that all classes that can continue, will continue. Libraries, restaurants and other food outlets, as well as administrative offices and other university facilities will remain open as well.
However some classes, labs and tutorials will be suspended.
The university has set up a page to keep students updated on the status of the strike at http://yorku.ca/labour.