TORONTO, Feb. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - Over 3,700 education workers at York University could be on strike by March 3. Representing contract faculty, teaching assistants, graduate assistants and research assistants, Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3903) is now preparing for a possible strike.
The union recently voted 79.17 per cent for a strike mandate, with 40 per cent turnout – the highest in ten years. On February 10, the Ontario Ministry of Labour issued a "no board" report, which puts the union in a legal strike position as early as February 27. However, in order to maximise the chances of a negotiated settlement, the union has extended its strike deadline to March 3, scheduling three additional bargaining meetings with the Employer.
"We are doing our best to avoid a strike, but the university is leaving us with very few options," says Faiz Ahmed, chair of CUPE 3903. "We are trying to make the bargaining process work, but we also need to be prepared to strike if negotiations fail to achieve a fair contract for our members."
The union has already organized two rounds of strike training for its members, and will host an open house for undergraduate students at its strike headquarters next week. Nearly a thousand students have emailed York's president, Mamdouh Shoukri, expressing support for the union's proposals.
"What's at stake for York is the quality of its education and its reputation as a place of higher learning," says Ahmed. "Our proposals for job security for contract faculty, improved graduate student funding, and equity in the workplace are all meant to create a better York for everyone."
Both parties have been meeting with the assistance of a Ministry of Labour-appointed conciliator since January 16. CUPE 3903 members will make a final decision at a special general membership meeting on March 2 about whether to accept the Employer's final offer or go on strike.
SOURCE CUPE 3903
For further information: Faiz Ahmed, Chair, CUPE 3903, 416-879-7078 (mobile), CUPE3903chair@members.cupe.ca