NDP Leader Howard Hampton says he doesn’t belive the legislature should force York’s striking union back to work.
Provincial NDP leader Howard Hampton says his party won’t support the back-to-work legislation set to be introduced to Ontario MPPs on Sunday.
The Liberal government-drafted legislation would force striking CUPE members at York University to go back to work, and send the school’s 50,000 students back to school after an 11-week strike.
Hampton, whose party gets significant support from labour unions, says he believes the way to resolve the issue is through a negotiated settlement between the administration and the union that controls 3,300 teaching assistants and contract faculty members.
Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Saturday morning that his government planned to reconvene the legislature on Sunday at 1 p.m. to force an end to the strike that has crippled York University since Nov. 6.
He says the move came after speaking with Reg Pearson, the provincially-appointed mediator in the labour dispute, who said the two sides are much too far apart to come to a negotiated agreement in a reasonable time frame.
While McGuinty asked for all-party support in order to get the bill passed in one day, NDP opposition means it could take up to two weeks to pass the bill.
If it does pass on Sunday, students could be in class as early as Monday morning.
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory says his party will likely support the bill.
CUPE Local 3903, which represents the striking teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate students, tabled its most recent counter-offer on Friday. The union has been demanding increased job security and benefits for its 3,300 members.
Union spokesperson Tyler Shipley believes the province is making a big mistake by bypassing the bargaining process and is calling on opposition parties to resist the bill.
“This is a decision that will have long-term effects on education in Ontario,” he says. “It says to employers that if they don’t like what the union is asking for, they can just wait and the province will look after it.”
York is the country’s third largest university, and has experienced lengthy strikes twice in the past nine years.