York University strike drags on as union split over latest offer
Archive 2015 Mar 10, 2015 Wire Editor
Despite an offer by York University, many of the school’s striking workers have voted to reject the deal and continue their week-long strike.
A spokesperson for CUPE Local 3903 said that the unions unit 2, which represents contract faculty, voted to accept the school’s offer, while units 1 and 3 voted to reject the deal. Almost 1,300 workers participated in the vote at York’s Rexall Centre.
The two units who voted against the offer represent teaching assistants, graduate assistants and research assistants. They will remain on strike.
A Facebook page run by the York Federation of Students to inform the public about the strike reported on Monday that “academic activity will remain suspended” until a deal can be reached between the two sides.
More details are expected to come Tuesday, after the senate executive decides what program schedules will look like to round out the semester.
All classes and exams were cancelled after the strike began last Tuesday.
York University has proposed the hiring of more than triple the number of tenure-track professors from its pool of contract faculty. It also plans to freeze tuition for graduate students over that time in the offer voted on Monday night.
York and the union met Friday to come up with a fresh offer from the one rejected March 2 by members.
Under the old contract, York promised to convert seven contract jobs into tenure-track jobs over three years, but the latest offer promises to convert 24 contract jobs. This is a dramatic increase from the promise of nine in the offer members rejected before walking off the job.
York cancelled all classes and exams as soon as workers went on strike to ensure everyone was affected equally, hoping a deal was within reach.
After CUPE 3903’s last strike, which cancelled classes at York for three months, the university worked hard to rebuild trust on campus and restore the reputation of the university, which is the second-largest in Canada, with 55,000 students.
The university’s growing reliance on contract professors on government underfunding, as well as the lack of a mandatory retirement age, make it hard to predict how many vacancies will arise in any given year.
Under Ontario’s current tuition guidelines, graduate student tuition can rise by up to 5 per cent each year, and for international students there is no limit. Queen’s Park has capped undergraduate tuition hikes at 3 per cent.
In an unusual post on the union website Monday, the union’s executive committee apologized for not having provided an opportunity at last week’s meeting for members themselves to propose whether to go on strike or return to the bargaining table.