York University strike continues into Winter semester
By Sarah Millar, National Post
Thousands of York University students will remain out of classes today as
the strike by teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract faculty
approaches its third month.
Today would have been the start of the winter term for students at Canada’s
third largest university, but instead 50,000 students remain in limbo as
talks continue between the school and CUPE 3903, whose strike vote two
months ago shut the university down.
Negotiations began again for the first time in over a month between the two
parties on Saturday and continued on Sunday. The main issues include job
security for contract faculty, wages and shortening the term of the next
contract from three years to two.
The longest strike at the university came in 2000-01, when students were
left in limbo for 11 weeks.
York media relations director Alex Bilyk said yesterday it is not likely
classes will resume this week, even if a settlement is reached at the table
in the next couple of days.
“Basically if there were a settlement, the union would have to take that
settlement back for ratification with their members and that could take any
number of days. So it is unlikely that students could be back this week,” he
Mr. Bilyk would not comment on the status of the talks or if any progress
had been made at the table. The last time the two parties met, the mediator
shut down talks on the same day they started because the parties were still
too far apart.
When classes resume, York students will most likely see their reading week
cancelled next month.
Classes may have to be extended into May, but Mr. Bilyk said that decision
is up to the university’s senate to determine. Already York’s senate has
determined 13 days will have to be added to make up for fall term classes
disrupted by the strike, followed by a shortened exam period, before winter
classes would begin.
Students and parents have been frustrated as the two-month strike drags on,
and Mr. Bilyk said the university hopes the dispute ends as soon as
“This has been a long process and a long labour dispute, and all we can hope
is to get an expeditious resolution as possible.”