Pickets went up early today outside York University in north-end Toronto and classes were cancelled as a strike by 3,400 staff began.
Barricades were also erected across a street at the main entrance to the sprawling campus to slow down vehicles trying to enter. Contract faculty, teaching assistants and graduate assistants walked out at midnight, cancelling classes for about 50,000 students.
The CUPE members voted late last Wednesday night to reject the university’s final offer of a 9.25 wage increase over three years.
The union is seeking an 11 per cent increase over two years and CUPE Local 3903 president, Christina Rousseau, says the union also wants wages tied to the cost of living and improved job security.
York University spokesman Alex Bilyk says the university believes its offer is fair and is committed to resolving the strike as soon as possible.
The university was also hit by a strike in 2001 that lasted 11 weeks.
“We really hope that it won’t last as long, but we are prepared to go that long if we need to,” Rousseau said.
“We hope that the administration would be reasonable with us and willing to meet us in our demands.”
Student Kyle Vance, who arrived at the campus today only to find classes cancelled, said the strike was “kind of like holding the students hostage.”
-The Canadian Press