Update: No Deal Reached


By Sarah Millar, National Post

After two days of negotiations, a deal between York University and striking workers has not been reached, the National Post has learned.

“Talks are still continuing, so we’re very positive about that,” CUPE 3903 chair Christina Rousseau said. “But right now, no deal is reached.”

Rousseau said the union had hoped that the new offer they presented to the university would have made some leeway, and that it is disappointed that it did not. 

“We’re going into our fourth week this week, so we’re hoping this can get settled soon, but right now it’s not looking like that.”  

CUPE 3903, the union representing teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract faculty walked off the job on Nov. 6. The union is looking for a wage increase and better job security for contract faculty. The university has maintained that binding arbitration is the only way to reach a deal as soon as possible.

50,000 students at York University have been out of classes since the strike began, with students at the Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall law school returning to classes in the last week. Due to the length of the strike, students will now have to make up the time either over the Christmas break or next summer. Exams were supposed to start for the students next week.

“It’s very inconvenient for them, we’re really working hard to reach a settlement,” Rousseau said about the students who are out of classes righr now. “We’re just hoping that once classes are resumed that senate will make the transition back as seemless as possible.” 


This is getting absolutely ridiculous! It doesn’t even seem like the University is trying to meet them half way. I would like to see the details but I can guarantee you the sticking point is still the 2 year contract length. I don’t know what else to say really…







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56 responses to “Update: No Deal Reached

  1. Pat

    shenanigans thats all this is

  2. Student

    To be honest, I don’t see why the university needs to meet them halfway.

  3. jk12

    If this Rousseau character is so concerned about the undergrads going back to class, she may want to think about binding arbitration before what tiny ounce of support CUPE may or may not has vanishes.
    And the University should seriously consider giving into some of CUPE’s more reasonable demands because the further this goes, the bigger the mess they’re going to have to clean up with exams, reading week and international students all remaining issues

  4. Another student

    There’s no way I want to make up the time over Christmas break!!!!!

  5. Commuter

    They CAN’T change the Christmas Break. The University is CLOSED. These journalists need to do some JOURNALISM before they publish random personal thoughts on an issue, and call them facts.

  6. CUPE member with child

    The sticking point right now isn’t a 2 vs 3 year contract. The main sticking point is job security for unit 2’s (contract faculty) and the indexing of funding to any increases in graduate enrollment. Since 2005 enrollement has increased by 28% and the university is currently “restructuring” to accomodate even more graduate students. Much of our funding since 2005 has been a fixed amount accross the whole Union. This has eroded out funding significantly. The Union is currently fighting to have this funding catch back up to 2005 levels per student, and make this level of funding indexed to any further increase in graduate student enrollment.

    Guess what the university wants to do? Not match per-student funding back to the 2005 level and increase enrollment even further. This would be a triple-bonus for the university since not only do they get more money from tuition from the increase in the number of graduate students, but they also get approximately 2 dollars from the government for each tuition dollar they get.

    Who’s the greedy one here?

  7. Commuter

    @ CUPE member with child

    Your insight is much appreciated! I agree, and I hope CUPE comes out on top with respect to this issue.

    Another question: do they negotiate on Sundays?

  8. MR Two

    WOW… after all this time York still wants binding arbitration. What a sham.

  9. CUPE member with child

    I don’t know if they will be negotiating Sunday (tomorrow), but even if they do and come to an agreement then CUPE could have a ratification vote no earlier than Monday. So, anybody who’s wondering if school will start Monday – no it won’t (unless the university reverses its decision to cancel classes and hold them without CUPE members – not likely at all).

  10. sam

    I dont think that they would meet sunday after three days of meetings, they will probably resume monday or something. I think that this week is going to be a write off and if anything we would go back to school for two weeks.

  11. If they move the exams to January, will that include correspondence courses?

  12. Nathan

    The Admin is starting to cave regarding the funds, if the latest reports are to be believed. Still no real progress for the Unit 2’s, but the real worry (for pessimists like myself) is this scenario:

    Administration says: we’ll give you all that you want re: funds and benefits, we’ll give you Unit 2 job security. In return, you have to sign a 3 year contract at 9.25%.

    My biggest fear is that the Union will reject such a deal.

  13. ram

    But i m happy in a way that this week can be wasted without classes.. But i am just eager to know if the union would make further amendments BECAUSE the university has said that the new framework still is 28% increase over two years which they feel is unaffordable. We will know something significant on wednesday..

  14. ram

    Also check the link everyone for complete news.. The post here is incomplete with respect to what the university has said. …TODAY’S MEETING WAS SUSPENDED BY THE MEDIATOR….[JUST CHECK THE LINK TO KNOW THE FULL DETAILS]…

  15. Confused and Exasperated

    According to Coleman over on Maclean’s blogs the talks have broken down and the mediator has suspended talks…
    Not much information there tho.

  16. Rocco

    While I don’t doubt the truth behind the article, I pose a question: why are these National Post articles written so poorly?

    That article reads more like a sappy blog.

  17. flushafleshfarm

    Why leave THIS part out?:

    According to a media release from the university, the mediator suspended talks on Saturday evening.

    “The university entered the negotiations to reach a settlement and get our students back to class,” Alex Bilyk, media director at York University, said in a media release. “But with the union’s monetary demands still at the 28% mark over two years, the union is clearly not ready to settle at this time. It’s so disappointing and frustrating for our 50,000 students.”

  18. Robin

    guess it’s safe for me to go home then

  19. Tom

    I didn’t see this when I originally read it; possibly editted in?

  20. Tom

    *It’s also possible that I’m completely out of it and just didn’t notice it… but I don’t think so.

  21. CUPE member with child


    If the university offered all the benefits we’ve asked for and job security for all unit 2 members then I would be the first to sign a 3 year contract at 9.25%.

  22. ram

    PLEASE Can anybody ask the owner of the blog to change the time. It is 8:23 pm when i have started this comment. And the previous ones show 2:44 pm.. Check this please.

  23. ram

    do u guys feel that the strike will end before the next GMM on wednesday… I just need more assurance so that i can go ahead with the travel plan in second week of december..

  24. Nathan


    Oh, absolutely. I would too… but what role does the grand vision of 2010 play in the leadership’s thinking? Or for that matter, the fringe radicals?

  25. Tom

    @ ram

    Really, virtually anyone who comments on lengths at this point in time is speculating to the same extent you would be able to. Everyone’s running on the same bits of information; unfortunately there’s no ‘for sure’ or even ‘chances are’ at this point

  26. James Sheldon

    @ ram

    Likely no. The Wednesday GMM is the best chance they have of the union being able to vote on whether to accept the offer or not.

  27. Worried

    Has anyone seen this post. It says the mediator has suspended talks. Anyone have any insight to this. Please tell me both sides are still talking.


  28. Jimmy

    Ok so when are talks RESUMING?

    Are they back at it on Monday?

  29. anonymous

    no no talks are scheduled for the time being

  30. anonymous

    @ram: as for the gmm on wednesday i thought only then they would vote on the agreement reached over the weekend…but as for the gmm on wednesday i guess nothing will be voted on

  31. ram

    hey u might wanna check the york link for media relations that i am giving.. Its again misleading in a way that it says the union still has 120 outstanding demands on table while the union says they have come down to 20. But it is a trustable source.. have a look..

  32. flushafleshfarm

    York’s language is much worse:

    TORONTO, November 29, 2008 — As the mediator suspended talks on the evening of Saturday November 29, York University officials expressed deep disappointment that the union representing its teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract faculty is content to let the strike drag on indefinitely.

  33. You know what upsets me the most? There is no meritocracy involved here. I, for one want to make some sort of difference with my education, but right now it is very, very disheartening to see that THAT time is not any closer than it should be.

  34. ram

    true.. Also the university says there are 120 outstanding demands on table whereas the union claimed that it had come down to only 20 demands.. Anyways the truth is the talks have been suspended…

  35. Fred

    This is a victory for students
    At least we can go through December without classes

  36. CUPE member with child

    Some guy on the anti-strike pay has made these statements as to why he thinks the union is wrong. I don’t respond on the anti-strike facebook page because it would require me to join his site. Instead I shall do so here. His statements are in quotation marks:

    “other unions at Yorku recently settled their contracts for similiar terms to what management is currently offering the union”

    This is false. While the 9.25% offer is similir, the differences in benefits are not similar at all. Once inflation and benefits are taken into account, the pre-strike offer from York to CUPE3903 is a 1.4% reduction in our package. Taken these factors into the other union deals it amounts to an approximate 4-5% increase in their overall package. The devil’s in the details.

    “TA’s at York are already the highest paid in Canada”.

    False. Our direct wage is above the Canadian average for TAs but we are not the highest paid in Canada. The cost of living in Toronto is also higher, on average, than most university cities in Canada.

    “the current negotiating positon by the union would increase the spread even more between the paythat TA’s currently get and the next highest TAs at other universities”

    So…? If we took the university’s offer than it would increase the spread between us and the university’s above us.

    “TA’s and their unions at other universities have recently settled their strikes at their universities, for less than what the union is currently demanding”.

    Of course. We don’t expect to get all that we demand, but it is a position from which to bargain.

    “The last offer on the table was made by management, the union has not presented any counter-proposal.”

    True at the time. As of this morning, the opposite is true.

    “There is no incentive for management to change its position, as union demands are currently so far “above market””

    So why has management changed it’s position then?

    “the union asked, and went back to the bargaining table last week,but didnt alter its demands at all. So management walks out”

    True at the time. Since then things have moved on both sides.

    “the real issue of this strike is union demands for a two year contract so it has more power and so it can strike again in 2010”

    False. It is one issue but unlikely to be a sticking point. Contract faculty job security and the indexing of funds to the # of graduate students in 2005 (the time of our last contract) appears most important to the Union bargaining team.

    “by the union keeping its stance regarding 2010, it is sacrificing other demands that it has (ie bargaining is a give and take– if the union insists on a two year contract, it will have to give up on other points”

    I need more information from you to answer this. Which demands are the union giving up in order to achieve a 2-year contract?

    “many of the union’s own members have vocally come out against the union’s position”

    Do you mean the overall position or some particular points or strategies? I have yet to see any of my fellow members come out and speak against our entire position. Indeed, some voted against the strike, but I think you’re misrepresenting the position of the majority of union members.

    “media, even the usually pro union Toronto Star has come out in opposition to the union position”.

    That’s true. So far though they’ve only reported 9.25% as the university’s offer with no mention of any other part of the package. The difference between 9.25% and 11% is not a great difference and clearly not a sticking point in negotiations. I have not been able to determine if the Star is aware of any other aspect of the negotiation other than the difference – where the battle is being fought.

    “the union refuses to accept binding arbitration. Perhaps not the fairest, but it would end the strike.”

    Our interest is in a fair deal. Slavery would also end the strike, but would you advocate it?

    “the union is causing its own members to perhaps lose a whole year of school, causing them more financial hardship”

    The Union held a democratic vote to go on strike whereby every member had the opportunity to vote. Your logic though suggests that they must be fighting for a good cause. Thank you.

    “the unions argument that its members are living in poverty is flawed, and is insulting to other university students. This argument of “poverty” is making their position look worse”

    I live below the poverty line and is one of my reasons for wanting a better package. Why is that a flawed argument?

    “the union chose to go on strike. It didnt have to take this approach. It could have delayed strike action, taking rotating strikes, work to rule, or take other measures to bring its cause to attention of all”

    We were already on work to rule before the strike (did you not notice? – apparently by your statement you did not). We also delayed the strike by working without a contract for 2 months (did you notice? – apparently by your statement you did not). We could have kept working without a contract, for example like Teacher’s in Hastings Michigan who have been working for a number of years without a contract.

    “the union, because of its inflexibility, and unwillingness to return to the bargaining table coule perhaps cause 50,000 students to lose a year of school and cause great financial hardship on them”

    False. The Union has always been willing to return to the bargaining table in this strike. I challenge you to show me when we haven’t been willing to go to the bargaining table.

    “the union’s campaign of picket lines, blocking cars, partying, etc, makes them look immature, and is not helping their cause.”

    I have canvassed many cars at the picket lines and the majority have been supportive – some only after I’ve discussed the issues with them. This therefore helps our cause.

    “the union is playing a power game at the expense of all students and its own members”

    While I disagree with the fast and loose use of the language “playing a power game”, we are indeed using the power of withdrawing our labout gain a package that is worth working for.

    “union support for its cause it rapidly losing support, as everyone understands the issues at stake. The longer this strike lasts, the worse reputation that the union will get”.

    Frankly, I don’t think you understand the issues at stake, let alone “everyone”. I see some people increase their support for the union, some increase their support for the administration, others are indifferent or keep supporting who they’ve supported all along.

    “by prolonging this strike, the union risks back to work legislation. The goverment may impose a contract on the union that perhaps is even worse than what management is offering.”

    False. In the extremely unlikely event that we are legislated back to work, the worst that would happen would be binding arbitration which would not lose any wage or benefit offers already signed off on.

    -by prolonging this strike, the union is further tarnishing the reputation of the university, especially prestige programs. This will result less ability to get the best demands for its members in future negotiations, as a result of enrolment at York weakening, as many students will go to other universities, because Yorku has become Strikeu”

    By the same token the university is reducing its own reputation by prolonging the strike. If the union accepts a weak package now then this also increases the chances of future members getting weaker contracts.

  37. ram

    our next wait will be for the next round of negotiations to begin..

  38. CUPE member with child

    York’s site is alarmist. Talks are to resume Monday. The university came back to the table today with some minor points on the language of some of the contract, ignoring the most fundamental issues – unit 2 job security, pensions, and funding indexation. The Union’s bargaining team is meeting tomorrow to consider a response.

  39. ram

    the university’s media release is truly misleading if in reality talks were to resume monday. It KIND OF GIVES US A FEELING THAT THE TALKS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY UNTIL THE UNION GOES BACK WITH AN ALTERED PROPOSAL. Why is york playing this game.. Thankyou CUPEMWC for letting us know of the monday negotiations.. This shows how YORK is IRRESPONSIBLE IN COMMUNICATING..

  40. Soraya

    I have a paper due for a Tuesday class. We won’t be back back then, will we? 🙂

  41. Ridculous

    @ CUPE member with child

    Are you sure talks are reuming Monday?

    Several article links above(on campus macleans and York media release) stated:
    “The mediator stated that a settlement in the dispute is not close and no further talks are scheduled at the present time.”

    I am just trying to plan my work schedule so it is important for me to know. If your source is accurate or if the other sources are correct that talks have (again) broken down completely.

  42. pp

    @ Soraya

    Haha still working on that essay :P…Looks like that extra week we took turned out to be a month!

  43. helpmeplz

    Hello guys 🙂
    Is there anyone writing a deferred exam this semester? Are we still going to write an exam if strike over before exam date?

  44. stopthestrike

    there’s a rumor that if strike goes over 2 months, all the classes (fall term and winter term or a yaer term) would be canceled and no grades would be given for a whole year. and tution fees would be refunded to students. did anyone hear about this??

  45. sss

    I don’t get it. Why would York say that there are no talks planned if talks are supposed to resume Monday? You know, it really feels that neither side is concerned at all with keeping students updated and THAT is extremely frustrated. Now we have a CUPE member saying talks are happening on Monday and the University saying they aren’t… how on Earth are we supposed to know who to believe?!

  46. alex

    @CUPE member with child

    first of all, thank you for all the information and insights you share

    However, as much as University might be interested in getting it’s way by any means, I doubt they would literally shoot themselves in a leg with the misleading statement. Not only they claim there are no talks scheduled but they quote the mediator on that. So, are you absolutely sure?

  47. Impatient

    @cupe mwc
    When you say “The Union has always been willing to return to the bargaining table in this strike. I challenge you to show me when we haven’t been willing to go to the bargaining table.” you mean as of november 20th right?

    Because it looks to me that when the union passed the motion to prevent the bargaining team from modifying the proposal you stopped being “willing” to show up for negotiations.

  48. commenter


    Actually, by deciding to stand by its proposal, the union was merely using the same strategy that York admin has pretty much been using throughout this entire process. Why has York admin, until very recently, refused to modify its offer? If York admin had taken the initiative to put forward a revised proposal, the union would have been more than willing to send the bargaining team back to negotiations. The union has consistently been more willing to make revisions to its proposals through this process than the university.

  49. Nathan

    So apparently, talks are NOT resuming Monday.

    ““The Union has always been willing to return to the bargaining table in this strike. I challenge you to show me when we haven’t been willing to go to the bargaining table.””

    The Union basically told the Employer that it’s final pre-strike offer was trash and go told them to come up with a better one. The Employer naturally said “that’s our offer, it’s your turn to counter-offer.” CUPE did not counter-offer, instead clinging to their stance that initiative was up to the Employer to submit an “acceptable” offer until Nov 20. Clearly, CUPE was not willing to go to the bargaining table then, as also shown by how the “give BT flexibility” vote failed in the first go around.

  50. Impatient


    From it seems, the university changed its stance on some things, although not much, but they did. I am going off of what York said they offered on their website, and I will believe their latest post until someone who can legitimately prove me wrong does. By that I mean someone who was present at the meetings and tape recorded it, anything less then that, I choose not to believe since both sides are just spewing out propaganda.

  51. S

    Im getting sick of reading this website when there are no good updates!

  52. Idea

    Can anyone say, CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT, by the students against both York and CUPE 3903??

    The students need to be reimbursed for 1 month of lost tuition fees and possible lost income, and extra unnecessary expenditures of delaying the school year.

    Students join together against these 2 sides who clearly dont care about the students they’re playing a game of blackmail with.

  53. Trevis

    I agree, York doesn’t seem to be coming half way on this at all..

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