CUPE 3903 ratifies new contract, celebrates victory for accessible education

TORONTO, March 31, 2015 /CNW/ - Members of Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3903), on legal strike since March 3, have ratified York University's latest offer, ending the strike. The deal passed over 94 per cent in favour. The full results are available here: bit.ly/1CucV06.

As a result of the solidarity of the CUPE 3903 membership, and support from the broader community, the ratified agreement includes important concessions from the university.

Strengthened tuition indexation was a particularly significant gain. A core demand throughout the strike, it guarantees that any increase from 2012 levels will be matched dollar-for-dollar in graduate student funding, resulting in an unprecedented rollback of recent international fee hikes.

"This contract goes a long way in reducing the debt burden of graduate students," says Adam Proctor, an international Master's student and Bargaining Team member. "All future students are now protected against arbitrary fee hikes that claw back wages, and international students who entered York last year will see compensation of about $7,000 to offset these increases."

Donya Ziaee, a Ph.D. candidate and teaching assistant at York, adds, "I'm empowered by our members' commitment to win indexation. This provision makes York more affordable for international students, and creates a more diverse, vibrant and accessible graduate community."

The deal also includes an agreement by York to incorporate LGBT as an employment equity category, a sign of our members' support for improved equity in hiring. In addition, improved funding for graduate and research assistants represents a step in the right direction, making graduate education more affordable.

"Our victory demonstrates that it's possible to defeat austerity measures though strong collective action," adds Proctor. "The support we had from undergraduates, faculty, and our colleagues at the University of Toronto was key to our success."

Following ratification, all CUPE 3903 members will return to work on Wednesday, April 1. "I truly missed teaching over the last month, and look forward to returning to the classroom with my students," said Ziaee. "I also hope that our strike will deepen solidarity between graduate and undergraduate students. The struggle for accessible, high quality education doesn't end with our strike."

CUPE 3903 represents 3,700 education workers at York University, including teaching assistants, contract faculty, graduate assistants, and research assistants.

SOURCE CUPE 3903

For further information: Donya Ziaee, 416-728-1059, donya.z@gmail.com

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