On Campus

York University strike will continue

Union members reject university's offer, no sign of back-to-work legislation

Students at York University learned late tonight Tuesday that they will not be returning to classes anytime soon, after members of CUPE 3903 rejected the university’s latest contract offer in a vote supervised by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

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The contract offer was rejected by 61.7 per cent of teaching assistants, 59.3 per cent of contract faculty, and 70 per cent of graduate and research assistants. The vote was requested by York University and ballots were cast over the past two days.

Now, students are left waiting as both sides are sticking to their positions and the government says it will not intervene to return students to classes anytime soon.

CUPE 3903 hailed the vote as a victory in a statement posted by the executive on the CUPE 3903 strike website, “The defeat of forced ratification is a victory, but our work as a local is not done.”

“We need to get back to the table so that we can all go back to work with a deal that is fair and equitable.”

York president Mamdouh Shoukri said in a statement tonight that university’s offer was final and the university has “no intention of negotiating for the sake of appearance… it is up to the Union and its members to reconsider their demands and step back from the brink.”

The university says will not offer a two-year contract to allow CUPE 3903 to join in a potential province-wide strike in 2010. Shoukri said the university is not “prepared to subject our students to another strike in 2010.”

Ontario’s official opposition was quick to respond to the news.

“Dalton McGuinty must act now,” said John Tory, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. “He should move to immediately recall the Legislature, introduce back-to-work legislation and save what is left of this school year for York University students.”

“Not doing so would be irresponsible, disrespectful and would further compromise the education these students, their parents and taxpayers have already paid for,” added Tory.

The government rejected the opposition’s call for back-to-work legislation. “We understand the mediator is in touch with both parties, encouraging them to get back to the bargaining table,” Annette Phillips, spokesperson for Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities John Milloy wrote in a email statement. “The Minister’s position from the beginning has been that the bargaining table is the place to resolve this matter. He will continue to urge both parties to come to an agreement in the best interest of students.”

All this comes as the deadline for cancelling York summer session quickly approaches. Once the summer session is cancelled, it will only be a matter of weeks before students face the prospect of losing their current academic year to the strike.