Update: Talks between York University and CUPE 3903 have broken down.

Update: Talks between York and striking union break down
Posted: November 14, 2008, 1:25 AM by Sarah Millar 

“The mediator has advised both parties that in his assessment there would be no productive use of further meetings at this time,” said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations, on Thursday evening.

According to Mr, Bilyk the union had not changed any of its demands for wage raises or contract terms despite asking for a meeting earlier in the week.

Christina Rousseau, chair of CUPE 3903, said the union didn’t bring anything new to the table, but instead they were hoping to get a response to some of the smaller proposals the union had made and some of the things the union had not been able to discuss with the employer prior to the strike. 

“We want to express our strong disappointment that the union falsely raised expectation among all parties,” Mr. Bilyk said.

“Unfortunately they rejected the proposals we presented, and haven’t offered us anything in terms of a counter-proposal or anything of a counter-proposal even from the last offer they gave us. They still haven’t given us anything and it still looks like they are not willing to negotiate with us but we’re working with the mediator to get something set up for earlier in the week,” Ms. Rousseau said.  

The union also continued to reject binding arbitration, something the university has been seeking. Ms. Rousseau hopes bargaining will begin again early next week. The union has a general membership meeting planned for this weekend according to its Web site.

Ms. Rousseau said no new talks are scheduled at this point and, while it is impossible to put a timeline on the strike, she said the soonest it could be over at this point is the middle of next week.

“It’s really, really frustrating. I mean we’ve been asking for meetings with the administration all week and they kept on saying they didn’t want to meet with us. And then finally yesterday evening or yesterday afternoon they did say yes and so we were really hopeful that they were ready to negotiate with us, but unfortunately that was not the case,” she said.

“We continue to repeat our offer of binding arbitration as the quickest way to get our 50,000 students back to class,” Mr. Bilyk added.


York University and CUPE 3903, the union which represents teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract faculty, are meeting on Thursday, one week after the strike began.

Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations, confirmed the two parties were meeting.

CUPE 3903 voted in favour of a strike last Wednesday night after rejecting the university’s most recent offer of a 9.25% raise over three years. The union wants their contract term brought down to two years and an 11% raise over that time. They are also looking for better job security for contract employees.

The university has repeatedly requested binding arbitration, which the union has turned down. Graham Potts, the union’s chief negotiator, said the union would prefer to bargain with the university than go to binding arbitration.  

When the union walked off the job, classes were cancelled for 50,000 York undergraduate students. If the strike lasts longer than two weeks, students could miss some of their Christmas break, reading week or summer holidays to make up the time.

Source: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2008/11/14/york-university-meets-with-union.aspx

University Official Update: http://webapps.yorku.ca/NegotiationsUpdates/doc/CUPE3903_Update6.pdf



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46 responses to “Update: Talks between York University and CUPE 3903 have broken down.

  1. Taka


  2. MR TWO

    yep, it’s gonna be a long one

  3. yorkstrike2008


    I was talking to some picketers this morning and they said the Union is now either ordering or building themselves sheds for the winter…

    I am going to try and get some pictures…

  4. The Man With The Plan

    lol i thought the strike would be over my early next week i was starting to panic cuz my lazy ass hasn’t done any work in catching up. It looks like im gonna get to work. Hopefully the strike won’t end next week.

  5. A

    so it IS a long one. now to find out how exactly long, long is :S.I hate them just not saying that we should basically find something else to do. If it passes the two week margine which it probably will should we anticipate the strike lasting atleast till january?

  6. Stef

    The last strike was 11 weeks long…we’re into week one and a half and I’m already starting to feel like a couch potato (and that’s actually doing work to catch up, extra volunteering, and working more hours).
    What am I going to do if it lasts longer???
    PS – I’m joining a gym tomorrow, hopefully that will keep me busier. We should form a support group with tips on how not to lose our minds.

  7. Jimmy

    W00t 😀

    Yeah good news indeed 😀


  8. theowne

    To everyone who just posted.

    Go to sleep 🙂

  9. hullo

    Guys do your h/w for your own good. Instead of blaming these CUPE workers, we are probably better off joining them at this point because York could really afford whatever they are asking. Profs. mark our papers not those lazy adminz. I mean come on, if you really think about this, our children might be able to benefit from all this. GO CUPE!!!! lol

  10. Just curious- could the strike possibly be beneficial to the university in the sense that they would be saving millions by not having to pay the T.A’s and those faculty staff who are on strike? If so, it seems to ME like the admin. may opt not to have the term to be extended inorder to somehow benefit from a lengthy strike (which, ofcourse, would also be to thier liking due to potential monetary savings). I dont know if anyone here can comment on this, but surely this line of reasoning must have, at the very least, some prima facie significance to what MAY very well end up happening to the term after the dust has settled. Or maybe it’s just me beggining to worry that, somehow, the semester will not be extended and we will be responsible for the regular amount of course material in less classes in the event that this now somewhat lengthy strike is force fed temporal steroids by the YorkU admin.

  11. Artem

    I like turtles

  12. Jimmy

    I prefer Peanut Butter Sandwiches


  13. NotAMorningPerson

    Well there goes my summer 2009 graduation

  14. joe

    @ yorkstrike2008

    sheds for the winter? thats pretty serious.

  15. UndergradSupporter

    What the article failed to mention…
    “The mediator then ran through the picket lines, yelling that he couldn’t miss this week’s episode of 30 Rock. Jennifer Aniston is in it.”

  16. yalp

    the sheds are for ice fishing on the pond
    they said they are going to stock the pond with salmon next week

  17. Nathan

    “Guys do your h/w for your own good. Instead of blaming these CUPE workers, we are probably better off joining them at this point because York could really afford whatever they are asking.”

    Your reasoning is? If York could actually afford it, they would have caved long ago in order to preserve the hundreds of millions of dollars in undergraduate tuitions they are risking.

    “Just curious- could the strike possibly be beneficial to the university in the sense that they would be saving millions by not having to pay the T.A’s and those faculty staff who are on strike?”

    York saves no money in the long run. TAs get paid by the course, not by the hour. As long as the courses still finish, TAs will still get the same wage. The only difference is that the pay distribution per month will be different.

    Oh, and Reese’s is awesome.

  18. Smitty

    I don’t know if anyone else has heard this, but I have a friend who is a TA (who, for the record, does not support the strike) and she said that at 12 weeks York has to refund everyone’s money. That’s why the last strike ended at 11 weeks – York pretty much gave the TA’s what they wanted to avoid having to give millions in refunds to the students.

    So I would assume that the TAs are at the point where they know if they just hold out the university will eventually cave.

    Any thoughts?

  19. Flying J

    should i book a vacation for december 2nd now?

  20. selin

    I am supporting CUPE workers.york should provide them job security , wage increases etc…

  21. Basil El-Salviti

    Flying J, there is no telling what students should do. The strike could end even next week if the two sides do intend to meet again.

    I have a gut feeling though that it’ll be at least another week, possibly more. While this is just instinctive thinking, I have a feeling it’s right….let’s hope I’m wrong.

  22. R

    whats gonna happen to our finals now?? there havent been any c lasses so r we going to give the exams??? what if strike ends in the 1st week of december?? we cant go to give the exams right away!! what happens???

  23. UndergradSupporter

    It’s a little silly to be optimistic about the strike ending early. The last strike went on for 11 weeks, the one at Widsor went on for 2.5 weeks and York University is the most socialist girl at the ball, so don’t expect a quick resolution.

    Admin isn’t budging and the Union opened a day care and is looking to set up winter shelters around the university to make picketing more comfortable.

  24. Milky Way


    Our exams will get postponed. Instead of having exam, we will be having classes in December and exam in January.

    I personally booked a mini-vacation just for a day next week just because I know that I won’t have anymore chance to basically refresh for a long time (missed Christmas + reading week)

  25. I dont think they would have us taking exams right away clearly we haven’t covered all of the topics that would be on the exam so it wouldn’t happen in my opinion. They will either compress some aspects of the exams to not include what we haven’t learned or extend our year in some way. Thats what I think anyway…

  26. joe

    @ milky way

    wait.. we’re going to miss Christmas break if the strike ends?

  27. Mr.X


    Guys, this is what I think. In this vid, the kid represents us ’students,’ while the wii he is playing is our ‘education.’ When the ‘dog’ comes along and keeps disrupting us, that really is the union, trying to screw us over. Think about it.

  28. Jimmy

    Re: Exams

    My opinion is that we were given the readings from the beginning of the semester. We SHOULD be doing them (I know I am) so that we do not miss out.

    I can guarantee you guys that they are expecting us to do school work in this time. This is not party time. When school comes back we are gonna get hit hard.


  29. Milky Way


    Whether there will be holiday or not, as Jimmy said – if the exam is on January, then it will be a definite crunch time. I do believe that we still be having our mandatory Christmas Holiday from Dec 24th – Jan 2nd — however, I do believe we could be having class as late as Dec 23rd.

  30. Milky Way


    They do expect us to catch up on readings and do assignment if you have any since they will be due as soon as the university starts. The expectation is just as normal as if we he hadn’t have the strike – not more however.

  31. s~

    i like turtle soup, hehehe
    i should really…start studying 😦

  32. Sarah

    I just don’t understand why the university is letting this go on….does anyone know the outcome of the last strke? Did admin. end up giving in to all of CUPE’s demands? They should have learned something from that experience and try to bring something new to the table in order to get us back to class quickly. I think CUPE will stay on strike indefinitely so administration needs to offer them something to make them happy. I’m not on either one’s side, but I do plan on enjoying my Christmas vacation and doing summer school this year. If everything gets pushed back both of those may not be an option.

  33. K

    For anyone concerned about doing work during this strike…you are welcome to do your readings & assignments, but you are NOT REQUIRED to do so. As of 12:01am on November 6th, you were (and are) free to do absolutely nothing, and the university cannot penalize you for it. Again, I don’t think it’s beneficial to just sit around and do nothing, but if someone was feeling pressed to choose between picking up work shifts and doing school work – don’t worry.

  34. Jean-Sebastien

    Yamuni, Confused… and others,

    The decision to extend the semester or not falls under the University Senate’s jurisdiction, not the administration. Thus, proper remedy to make up lost classes will be taken after the strike.

    In the mean time, you can visit the Senate website for more information regarding the academic impacts of the labor disruption: http://www.yorku.ca/secretariat/Strike2008/Strike.htm

    Have a good day,

    Jean-Sebastien Marier,
    Student Senator, York University Senate

  35. the thing that sucks, is if the University accepts the Unions requirements, or whatever you want to call them, our tuition, as in undergrads tuition, will likely go up.

  36. Without a doubt it will go up …..
    I found this on CUPE 3903 website …. interesting….

  37. Cincinnatus C.

    Tuition in non-professional undergraduate programs is regulated by the province. York is not free to recoup all of its “losses” to CUPE 3903 by raising tuition.

    Sarah: the union won on the major issue in the last strike (i.e., indexation of tuition rebates for TAs to increases in tuition, effectively neutralizing tuition increases) after the administration invoked a legal mechanism to force a secret-ballot ratification vote on the offer on the table. A majority of Unit 2 (contract faculty) members voted to ratify, so the strike ended for them, but majorities of Unit 1 and Unit 3 members voted not to ratify, so the strike continued for them. Within days (and amid rumours that the province was preparing to place the university “in receivership”), the administration capitulated.

  38. Guess Who

    I am an international student and I am at the risk of not going back home for the small 2 week holiday period after the final exams.

    I find it hard enough to stay away from my country and cope here with the studies. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I would be able to go back home after the final examinations. Now that seems to be more of a hope than fact.

    If there any possibility that the university will officially state that the semester has been deferred and that we can go back home?

    If they did, this would definitely make up for the holidays I would lose after the final examinations.

  39. Nathan

    “Tuition in non-professional undergraduate programs is regulated by the province. York is not free to recoup all of its “losses” to CUPE 3903 by raising tuition.”

    Yep. So they’ll get it back via parking fees, residence, gym memberships, vendor rent for York Lanes (resulting in the vendors having to increase prices to turn profit), and all the other goodies students use.

    Either that, or they’ll just slash the budgets of a few departments.

    On another note, you actually take pride in bringing the University to such a state where the PROVINCE HAS TO STEP IN AND RUN IT? How does that benefit anyone except the other party at the negotiation table?

  40. Cincinnatus C.

    Nathan: if you’re asking whether I take pride in that, the answer is that I certainly do not.

  41. Jay

    Personally, I think its a waste to make ‘predictions’ on how long the strike is going to be, because honestly, most of us know jack squat about whats going on in the bargaining room. I know its been said many a times, but I’m sick of people trying to predict when it will end. Unfortunately, we have to sit along for the ride

    Secondly, I am not a pro-union person by any means, but people really need to stop bashing T.As. It’s unfortunate that we the students have to suffer through the strike, but its the only way they can get their demands met. They have the right to strike, just like any of us would if we felt we needed to improve our ‘working conditions’. Might seem unreasonable, but it’s within their rights

    Finally, to the creator of the site, awesome job. Funny, how the most informative source doesn’t originate from CUPE or YorkU, but a student. Awesome work!

  42. Agreed this site is my #1 source for strike info!

  43. Gabby

    for everyone worried about the Christmas holidays I’m pretty sure that nothing will be running from Dec 24-Jan 5, or atleast that’s what I got from this:

    “Will the University run exams at any point after it officially closes between Dec. 23, 2008 and Jan. 5, 2009?
    No, the University will be closed from Dec. 24, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009 inclusive. The University remains open up to and including Dec. 23, 2008 and reopens on Jan. 5, 2009. Students will be expected to resume class and exam attendance once the labour disruption is resolved”


  44. joe


    Before the strike I would of been done school on Dec 2nd.

    Now I might have to go to classes right up until Christmas?

  45. Gabby

    pretty much.. thats why I’m hoping either the strike ends really soon (which I kinda doubt) or after the holidays.. class in December would suck

  46. Brandon

    RE: Strike at York

    I’m a 4th year student at York and I just have wanted to mention one quick thing that is missing from the articles I have read regarding this strike. A major concern during the strike is that students are drastically falling behind, but this is not entirely true. In every course I have taken at university, we are given or are required to purchase the course material which covers the full length of the course. So during this strike, I am able to keep up-to-date in my courses. And when the strike ends, I will actually be ahead of schedule. I am mentioning this because I believe in unions, and I believe that forcing a binding arbitration (in this situation) would tear down their fundamentals and would be a very sad step backwards.

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