University calls on union to put 50,000 students first and accept binding arbitration
TORONTO, November 4, 2008 — York University has increased its wage offer to 9.25% over three years as part of a contract package to avert a strike by the University’s contract faculty, graduate students and teaching assistants. The union, CUPE Local 3903, will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01am on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008.
The wage offer to the CUPE Local 3903 is the same wage offer contained in a new, three-year contract recently ratified by the York University Staff Association.
“We are treating all employees fairly and evenly at York University,” said Dean Robert Drummond, spokesperson for the University’s negotiating team. “This offer should form the basis of contract settlement with CUPE Local 3903.”
The University also offered contract improvements relating to:
- tuition protection for graduate students for term of the new collective agreement
· improvements in dental and vision care benefits
· improvements in paid leaves
· increases in various supplementary funds.
The University also raised the possibility of long-service teaching agreements for contract faculty, which it believes would address Unit 2 job security concerns.
“The University is doing all it can to avert a strike knowing the harm it will cause its 50,000 students. We are prepared and willing to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract. We have offered binding arbitration. We have never considered locking these employees out, ” Drummond said.
The University also renewed its offer to the union to agree to binding arbitration on outstanding contract items in order to avoid disrupting students’ education. So far, the union has rejected this offer.
“We all need to put the educational needs of our students first,” Drummond said.
The deans of all faculties have, in conjunction with the Chair of Senate, agreed that academic activities (with certain specified exceptions) will be suspended in their faculties in the event of a strike by CUPE Local 3903. The University’s academic leadership is of the view that most academic activities cannot continue without contract faculty and TAs.
“While we hope it will not come to a strike, the University needs to provide students with advance warning so they can make preparations for the suspension of classes in the event of a strike. We will need to communicate to all students and our institutional partners what academic activities will be suspended and what activities will continue,” Drummond said.