Yorku Update: Mediator suspends talks

Mediator suspends talks in CUPE 3903 strike at York University

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.

“The union either brings some realistic and affordable proposals back to the table, or they agree to independent binding arbitration. One way or the other, the primary goal must be to get our 50,000 students back to the classroom, as soon as possible,” Bilyk said. 

“The University entered the negotiations to reach a settlement and get our students back to class. 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,” said Alex Bilyk, spokesperson for the University.

Even as talks continued, CUPE 3903 was asking its members to attend a strike rally on Wednesday, December 3 at Queen’s Park to demand an end to the “casualization of education workers.”

“I fear our 50,000 students are being held hostage by a union more interested in planning rallies and promoting confrontation with the province than reaching a settlement  here at York University that will end this strike and get our students back to class,” said Bilyk.

“We understood that CUPE 3903 had a new framework to reach a settlement, but in the end their monetary demands were 28% over two years with more than 120 proposals still on the table. Their demands are not realistic and they are not affordable, especially in a worsening economy,“ Bilyk said.

The University entered the latest round of talks in order to reach a settlement and get its 50,000 students back to the classroom. On top of a 9.25 % wage increase over three years, the university proposed:

– fund increases and indexation to future membership growth

– long-term full-time teaching appointments

– benefits and post-retirement benefit improvements

University officials pointed to several settlement trends:

  • Provincial teacher and support staff unions (including CUPE unions) that have settled for 3% annual salary increases in multi-year contracts
  • York University’s CUPE 1356 which settled in early November for a 9.25% salary increase over three years
  • Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) settled last week for a 6.5% increase over 4 years.
  • significant increases in levels of minimum guaranteed funding and graduate financial assistance
  • substantial increases in collective agreement funds of over $800,000 annually including a 400+% increase in childcare subsidies
  • appointment of all members of a specified pool of long-service contract faculty to full-time faculty Special Renewable Contracts (SRC’s).
  • the right not to use electronic formats for student evaluations and grade submissions

“Clearly the University is being fair and realistic with a total offer of 10% over three years “ Bilyk said.

When talks were suspended, CUPE 3903 was demanding monetary increases totalling 28% as part of a shopping list of over 120 outstanding demands including:


york officials said there are very few choices left.


Here is the release from the University


Source: http://www.yorku.ca/mediar/archive/Release.asp?Release=1565



Filed under Uncategorized

66 responses to “Yorku Update: Mediator suspends talks

  1. nellyli

    honestly, why are all these dramas…

  2. yorkstrike2008

    They act like 3 year olds in a sandbox. The difference is the fight is not over a toy trucks, its over money…

  3. ff

    looks like ‘letting the bargaining team bargain’ was a real ‘ace in the hole’ idea.

    hate to say ‘i told you so’.

  4. Soraya

    So… I’ll see you guys in January.

  5. Mike Oxbig

    so at the very least we won’t have school next week…maybe not even the week after either…so pretty much, yeah, as Soraya said, see you in January…haha

  6. ram

    It has no indication as to whether there is a negotiation on monday and openly states that there are no talks for time being.. PLEASE ADDRESS TO THIS, [CUPEMWC].

  7. Rocco

    I’m so turned off right now that I will not bother to check these updates anymore. This is absolutely ridiculous. When I hear that this strike is over, it won’t be from checking news sources, yorku.ca, or this fine site which has kept me well-informed. I am heron out not bothering myself with this garbage.

    Thank you yorkstrike2008 for doing your best to keep the students informed. Unfortunately, there is still no resolve.

    I’m done.

  8. Ridculous

    @ Ram I agree, this indicates the provincial mediator called off the talks with no furthur talks planned.

  9. Another student

    It would be nice to know for sure whether talks are resuming Monday or not.

  10. ram

    I also suggest that the owner of the blog create a new thread/topic which has the latest updates on the negotiations on the university website. I am just pasting it again…In this way future comments and thought exchanges can be based on this update. IT IS MORE CLEAR AND DETAILED THAN THE MEDIA RELEASE… [at least i feel so].

  11. CUPE member with child

    There will be talks monday. A few points:

    Even the moderator at today’s meeting acknowledged that York was wrong about there still being 120 outstanding issues. Some of these have already been agreed upon and others have been already withdrawn by CUPE.

    The Union bargaining team is going to take Sunday to formulate a response and meet with the University side on Monday.

    I’m not just saying this because i’m biased, and I am biased, but York’s update is sooo full of shit.

    You guys saw the updated and detailed bargaining update from the CUPE side this morning which talks about many of the points the university mentions. Compare the two and see which side is being more straight up.

  12. ram

    Anyway an answer should be out on monday.. But people who do not know about this blog/site might purely depend on the university’s updates which according to [CUPEMWC] contradicting in many ways.. I am just sympathizing with the students because they are just taken for granted and emotionally exploited so much by this strike.. I m yet to wholeheartedly decide which update is true and to rely on… MEDIA WILL ALSO GO BY THE UNIVERSITY’S UPDATE.. SO WHAT AM I SUPPOSE TO THINK OF THE UNIVERSITY?

  13. YorkStudent

    See everyone in Jan! Going to Cuba!

  14. Curious Yorkie

    ahahahaha. This is jokes. I have stopped believing in any info I am getting abt the strike from the York and the Union’s websites.
    About Monday’s meetings – Who knows if they are meeting again or not? Does anyone know what YFS is saying about this?

  15. Pingback: » Yorku Update: Mediator suspends talks « York Strike 2008

  16. ram

    @ Curious Yorkie..
    True… Even though the union would be thinking they are meeting with the university on monday, the university by all means can decline at the last moment.. May be this might even come as a big surprise for the union! VERY FUNNY..

  17. Soraya

    So if there is a meeting on monday why suspend talks? Ugh.

  18. I am supposed to graduate in December and this union has ruined my life.

    50,00 students – Some just started at York and will probably transfer after this, some living on residence forced to move back as they wasted $, some students who worked hard 4 years to finish their degree and get a job who now have their lives on hold, and the rest losing a semseter of their lives.

    All for what?

    Paramedical care? Childcare? Health care benefits + fund protection?

    Does anyone realize TAs work 10 hours a week? Can you name a single job that works 10 hours a week and receives benefits like that? You want these benefits? Go work 40+ hours a week at any job in Ontario like the rest of everyone, and you will get them.

    Don’t be fooled; there are many, many TAs who break the LOOSE provincial law governing the 10-hour work week standard. There are many TAs who aren’t living alone, aren’t single mothers, are living with their parents and make good extra cash. If one TA really is relying on a compensation of a TA to live a comfortable life, you chose the wrong job.

    You have to mark 500 papers a week? You have long hours? I guess plumbers should complain from back pain, nurses should complain from catching sicknesses. This is the job, the life you chose, the payment, the life is the result of your choices. If you do not like it, get another job.

    It’s not only York using propaganda. The Union posted on walls in York that their income is $10,000 , and in small font, “after tuition + living expenses.” Wow how stupid do you think people are? I have a part-time job, I make roughly $15,000 a year. Oh wait, no, minus $5k tuition, $1k books, $800 transportation, $2k food, I only make $6,200!!! Oh dear god help me. Wait, minus $4000 a year in car payments, I guess my yearly income is $2,200. Is there any other costs I can throw in their to make it seem like I make nothing? Hell I spend $3,000 a year on entertainment so my income is yearly -$800. Please.

    I am in no way praising York. If it knew how to settle such labour disputes it would not have a HISTORY of them.

    Originally the idea of unions, a by-product of communism, was created to decrease the earning and power gap between employees and their employers. But after decades, unions lost their way, lead with corrupt leaders, non-democracy-oriented and restrictions on free speech of members of the Union who did not hold significant positions. Today unions are blind by greed, and of course with $, there is no horizon, no limit, CUPE has striked before, and will again, within the next decade, and in the next, again and again.

    The overwhelming majority of students have a simple opinion – this is the life you chose. Don’t ruin ours

  19. flushafleshfarm

    @ CUPE member with child,

    Why would York put out such a statement if they do not really feel that way? If they know its conflictive in nature, what do they have to gain with respect to talks continuing in a positive light on Monday, as you seem to suggest they will?

    What could this all be about?

  20. leo

    @ soraya

    true… it will be quite incompatible to have the meeting on monday since the talked has been suspended.i wanna book my flight too !!!

  21. Impatient

    Where does it say that they are talking again on monday?

  22. Commuter

    @ Impatient

    Only CUPE member with child said that. Everywhere else I’ve read said they are NOT scheduled to meet again- indefinite suspension of talks.

  23. ram

    I am forced to go by the update just because it is a formal one and by which the media and public would have their understanding of the talks.. [although i want to believe in what CUPEMWC says].. But if at all there is some wrong information on the york’s website it will earn an even worse name.. {Is york not that much at least cautious?}

  24. Impatient

    So, like CUPE mwc always says, please varify that with proof

  25. Impatient

    Much of what York says is just propaganda to get you to take their side, and say hell ya! those union workers are greedy and should take what their offered, but on the other hand the union puts down the university all the time, really its your opinion on what side you wanna believe, if your not picking a side, you have to stay impartial and choose carefully as to what you want to believe.

  26. Ridculous

    The union may very well want to take the position of: “We are willing to meet on Monday and have flexibility to negotiate”

    But if the provincial moderator is correct in I think they need a cooling off period because both sides are too far apart. Then there is no point in meeting and I would agree with York’s stance of not meeting with the Union till a new proposal is on the table.

    For the record I don’t care who brings forth a new proposal for review whether York or the Union review their stance (preferably both) before meeting again.

  27. Ridculous

    @ flushafleshfarm

    I agree the universtity would not undermine their own credibility with the media and the entire university community by claiming no furthur talks are scheduled all the while planning to talk on Monday.

  28. ram

    @ Ridiculous
    I too agree with the fact york is cautious enough to safe guard the remaining little good name and credibility by not playing with media.. hahaha

  29. ram

    May be our CUPEMWC can once again check with the union may be tomorrow and find out if they still believe in having a talk on monday or they are shcoked themselves at the update..

  30. Mark E. Smith

    Reading all of these updates is like watching a guy masturbate for weeks straight

  31. B

    Both sides put out propaganda and spin.

    The mediator needs to start giving us updates 😛

  32. Curious Yorkie

    Yeah, I have to agree with the rest of you here. York would not put random stuff abt the meetings or the lack thereof on their website unless something is really happening. While much of the stuff that both sides are saying is propaganda, they cannot B.S. abt meeting dates, or so I feel.

    I dont think this strike is resolving anytime soon.

  33. Curious Yorkie

    P.S.: The union’s website has no info on the meeting on wednesday either. And so I dont think a meeting between the two parties would be really happening on monday. Just my thoughts on this anyway.

  34. Curious Yorkie

    ** MONDAY.

    Sorry 😦 this strike has messed up my brain 😛

  35. 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??

  36. Andrew

    I have a running pool going on right now for when the strike ends. The over/under is Feb 1st.

    And I have to laugh at ‘cupe member with child’. Are you trying to be Mrs. Lovejoy? “Would someone please think of the children!”
    But in all seriousness, just because you have a child does not mean you will get any sympathy from me. I can see your problems, with less money coming in right now, with this time of year, you want this to be over so your child can have a happy holiday. I’m not coldhearted, and I hope s/he does. But maybe to be just politically correct so we are working on the same name structure, I’ll change my name from ‘Andrew’ to ‘Student with held up career plans” or maybe “student with apartment lease that still has to be paid’
    So you want me to think about your child in all this (you do, or you wouldn’t have put it in your name)? Well are you thinking about my $885/month rent check I need to pay? I really doubt you are.

  37. Andrew

    And as far as what media to look at, I take CUPE’s and York’s websites with a grain of salt. I go to the York site because it is the fastest way to get information and not have to sift through posts upon posts of rally updates or small little clips of things.
    I go to the CUPE website for a laugh, because I swear who ever is in charge of that site needs NetNanny on their computer so their kids stop posting things that are childish sounding. It’s a union website, not a toy.

    Your best bet is to look at CTV, CBC, Toronto Star, The Globe, CityTV for news as they are just reporting as they see it and don’t put a spin on it to make it sound like they are the ones being hurt.

  38. JMac

    I wish the person running this site would quit with the pro-union comments like – “This is getting absolutely ridiculous! It doesn’t even seem like the University is trying to meet them half way. ” below the articles he/she posts. (when one side asks for the moon and the other offers something reasonable, you are dreaming if you think they will meet in the middle)

    The Toronto Star article is here:


    And comments like –
    It is interesting to note in the Star article that the union said they want to meet York on Tuesday while York knew nothing of that request.

    I believe the key in this entire mess is that the union went back into into negotiations on Thursday, November 27th, saying they were serious about reaching an agreement, while on Friday, November 28th they posted this on their web site:

    “December 3rd Rally Downtown vs. Casualization of Labour

    Rally Downtown in Solidarity with CUPE 3903


    Fight against the Casualization and Devaluation of Educational Work

    Contract Faculty, Teaching and Graduate Assistants at York University have been off the job since November 6th. December 3rd will be Day 28 of our strike……”

    I had originally thought this rally was organized prior to the restart of negotiations but when I saw that they posted the notice on Friday I thought “how stupid are these people?”.

    But maybe they aren’t that stupid, they just think York admin and those 50,000 undergrads are stupid.

    And if they truly were serious about trying to negotiate a deal these last three days then they need to have their heads read for not suspending that rally.

    And some of you people doubt York admin’s sincerity? Hmmmmm..

  39. ams

    Student 101…WELL SAID


  40. SARA

    my god these kids will never grow up will they!!!here we go again with the suspension of talk..last time this happened we had to wait for 2 more weeks until they met again..i guess its for sure now that we will be back in January..oh and i personally don’t think there will be voting for the union members anytime soon especially since york didn’t mention it and cuz the mediator has suspended any talks between the two sides for the time being

  41. over it!

    This school is way too political for its own good! As I see it the union is acting like some jaded/misunderstood victims and YORK is loaded up its wazoo trying to tell us they can’t afford to pay up! FYI ur not the victims!!! I’m a simple person with simple needs…like oh I don’t know finishing my education sometime this CENTURY …? They don’t care about us ..this is about pride..everyone knows if york gives them what they want it’ll be the same story in a few yrs. And if they don’t were damned anyways. I’m so transfering lol

  42. ASDF

    +1 for student 101

  43. B

    @JMac – agree with you there. for a neutral blog, those commentaries with the postings aren’t so impartial.

  44. Mike Oxbig


  45. Mike Oxbig

    another reason why this strike ending sooner is because, out of the 50 000 students not going to school right now, the strike maybe only really affects 10 000 students, most of the 50 000 are probably working and couldn’t care as much because they’re making money

    therefore you don’t have as many people getting pissed off

    and out of those possible 10 000 really affected, 8000 are probably passive…haha

    so all in all, no one cares, people are making money, having fun,

  46. Mike Oxbig

    because really, if students cared that much, there would be riots all day

  47. Impatient

    Im working full-time right now on a day to day basis, but I care, I’d love to start a riot over this, its annoying, but I dont have the time since I’m working

  48. Impatient

    One thing I dont understand is, if TA’s go to York with the priority of getting their masters/phd, which means they are a student, with a part-time job working 10hrs/week doing TA work.

    As far as I am aware they make over 10000 a year, which to me, seems quite high for only working 10 hours a week. The sensible thing to do, which everyone in my family who has a masters degree did, is to work a career*underlined* and do your masters part time at night school.

  49. Mike Oxbig

    then you don’t care enough

  50. Impatient

    No, your right, I musn’t care enough, cuz I’m not working right now to pay off the loan that I had to take out to pay for this semester of schooling, which lets face it, I’m not getting back. The university does not have my money sitting there waiting for me, they’ve spent it all already.

  51. Mike Oxbig

    education isn’t everything…it’s quite obvious some people come out of an undergrad degree borderline retarded…

    the most educated people still make worse decisions than uneducated people

    otherwise the world would be fine

  52. Mike Oxbig

    lol they can’t steal your money like that…

    but even if they did…

    i still bet people wouldn’t riot

  53. Mike Oxbig

    and that’s my point, you’re working and getting more experience out there…it’s just as valuable as an education..sometimes more, sometimes less…

  54. Impatient

    Ya that is true. I find it funny how TA’s can go on strike, spewing all these facts they claim to know, when the majority of them are probably between 22-26. They have no experience in the politics of striking, I’m not saying I do, but that also means they are being black sheep to the leaders of the union.

    And no, people wouldn’t riot, personally I’d rather just go tip their toilets or pour water on those garbage bin fires. Can’t wait for this possible snow storm monday 😀

  55. Mina

    So I guess I will be seeing everone again in January … have fun on your breaks as for me OFF TO CAIRO!!!! lol

  56. ff

    All the people who are going to university to get ‘a job’ – generally in the service sector, expecting to make a middle-class wage, for work that is essentially, and you will find -ultimately, things you probably could have done without spending a day or dollar at university, I have a message to you:

    Take a good look at industry in Ontario, specifically the auto industry. These are people who wanted ‘a job’ out of high school a generation ago.

    Picture yourself in 30 years, sure you have more experience, but if I’m running a company, I can always find a fresh supply of people to staff my business, and you aren’t getting any younger or healthier…also older workers, especially those foolish enough to have kids or parents they need to take care of – they just don’t have the commitment I’m looking for to work 80 hours a week and get paid for 40 like my stupid new-hire new- graduates – who again, just want to break in, in fact a lot of these idiots will work for me for 6-12 months as “interns” and I don’t even have to pay these assholes a nickle. LOL – Pay 60K for a useless degree, then spend a year supporting yourself and slaving away just to get a slave wage. I wonder how often I can fire people with no union, and no job security – I wonder what the balance between training new people vs. the necessity of ‘experienced’ people is. Probably not as high as you might be banking on…good for me, though.

    Yea, unions – good riddance. Somehow I think a lot of people might be singing a different tune in 30 or 40 years.

  57. amy doan

    @ Impatient

    is that snow storm for real on Monday?

  58. Rob

    im not really caring at all right now to be honest because of call of duty 5. i mean we are gonna lose some vacation time somewhere else, like holiday vacation or summer so i might as well enjoy it now, while i finish my assignments as well.

  59. MR Two

    @ ff:


  60. @ impatient

    yeah, I wonder how many people are going to show up to picket if there is 10-20 cm of snow. Not very many I could imagine.

  61. Impatient

    @amy, its just a warning right now, they said if you start to see snow mid afternoon/evening to today then yes

  62. 47500

    Given that at least 2500 of the striking workers are also FULL-TIME students, I wish YorkU updates would refer to the 47 500 students being “held hostage” etc. I mean, the striking students aren’t holding themselves hostage, are they?

  63. 47500

    And while we’re at it, how about tamping down the “hostage” imagery in general, everyone. The papers are full of images of what hostage-taking really looks like. I don’t think we need to compare our university’s legal strike with this week in Mumbai.

  64. student101.

    i idolize you, student 101

  65. Hello, I was sitting here at my law office and came across your site when searching on Yahoo. Just wanted to say great job, and as a business lawyer I hope my blog can be as educational as yours.

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