York University contract staff on strike

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Since Monday, contract staff at York University have been on strike after voting to reject the university’s final offer following six months of negotiations.

The union represents contract faculty members, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants and part-time librarians and archivists. The union and school say their positions on a number of issues are too far apart to reach an agreement at this time.

“Despite CUPE 3903’s willingness to bargain, the York Administration has made it clear that they are not interested in improving the working conditions of its workers, or the learning conditions of its students,” the union posted on its Facebook page, adding they received a “NO” from the school on issues such as guaranteed funding for teaching assistants, job security for contract faculty, restoring 800 eliminated graduate assistant jobs, and prioritizing equity, anti-racism and anti-sexual violence on campus.

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“York is trying to tell us that times are tough, while hiding that they made $37 million in profits last year alone — a number that has been steadily increasing since 2013. York tells us we make enough money as it is, while ignoring the fact that TA wages after tuition are under the poverty line and contract faculty work is underpaid and often unpredictable.”

A York spokesperson said the March 1 offer included improved benefits, pay increases of just over 2 per cent each year and improved job security.

“Following careful review of CUPE 3903’s lengthy and largely unchanged list of demands shared through the mediator over the weekend, CUPE 3903’s positions remain too far apart from our best offer to return to bargaining at this time,” said Barbara Joy, chief spokesperson for the university.

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The university previously said it will remain open during a strike and that classes not affected by the strike will go on as scheduled.

It says libraries, restaurants, administrative offices and other services will remain open. – CINEWS

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