'York can do better,' says union, as members reject offer

TORONTO, March 10, 2015 /CNW/ - Education workers on strike at York University held a ratification meeting last night, with almost 1,300 members in attendance. Representing contract faculty, teaching assistants, graduate assistants and research assistants, Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3903) has been on strike since March 3.

Teaching assistants (Unit 1) voted 59 per cent to reject, while graduate and research assistants (Unit 3) voted 77 per cent to reject.

Contract faculty (Unit 2) voted 65 per cent to accept, although they will remain off the job as long as classes are cancelled. Following the vote, contract faculty pledged to support their colleagues on the picket lines.

"This vote should send a very clear message to the Employer," says Faiz Ahmed, chair of CUPE 3903. "York can do better. Our members, especially international students, need protection from rising tuition costs. Hiking fees to make up for inadequate public funding for universities is simply not acceptable."

Ontario students pay the highest tuition fees in Canada, while the Ontario government spends the lowest per student on post-secondary education than any other jurisdiction in North America. In 1993, public funding covered 71 per cent of the total operating costs of Ontario's universities. Today, public funding covers less than half. Tuition fees and other private sources now account for the rest.

"With teaching assistants also on strike at the University of Toronto, it should be clear that there's a crisis of funding in Ontario's post-secondary education system," says Ahmed. "Last night's vote shows that our members can no longer afford to pay for that crisis."

While the union remains on strike, it is also committed to returning to the bargaining table as soon as possible. Its aim is to get a fair deal for its members, end the strike, and get students back in the classroom.

SOURCE CUPE 3903

For further information: Faiz Ahmed, Chair, CUPE 3903, 416-879-7078 (mobile), CUPE3903chair@members.cupe.ca

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