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Six weeks after strike begins, York University still unwilling to negotiate with academic workers

As a labour dispute between York University and their academic workers moves into its sixth week, the union representing York’s striking teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants said today the two sides remain no closer to reaching a deal.

“York University has consistently refused to bargain,” said Lina Nasr, a member of the Bargaining Team for CUPE 3903.

“The Government should be very concerned that a publicly-funded institution is wilfully failing in its responsibility to engage in fair and honest labour relations,” she added.

At a Queen’s Park press conference this morning, Nasr, CUPE 3903 Chairperson Devin Lefebvre and CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn noted that while the Union has repeatedly requested a resumption of negotiations since the strike began on March 5, York University has refused.

“Throughout the past six weeks, the clearest path to a resolution has gone through a bargaining table…Instead of taking the clearest path, York University has tried shortcut after shortcut,” said Hahn.

Over the weekend, members of CUPE 3903 overwhelmingly rejected York’s most recent offer in a supervised ratification vote demanded by the University. Rather than agreeing to a resumption of bargaining, York has renewed its call for the parties to send all outstanding issues to arbitration.

“Promoting arbitration when employers refuse to negotiate is accepting that employers – especially a publicly-funded institution that continues to demand concessions – do not have an obligation to negotiate in good faith,” said Nasr.

She reiterated that CUPE 3903’s bargaining team remains ready and available to resume negotiations – over the weekend, if necessary.

A strike by workers at Carleton University, which also began in the beginning of March, ended last week after both sides negotiated an agreement that was overwhelmingly ratified by workers.

“Carleton University resolved their dispute because the parties agreed to sit down at a table and work through what were very significant differences. If Carleton can do this, so can York,” said Hahn.


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