I just finished watching the live webcast of the Ontario Provincial Legislative Assembly at Queen’s Park and the bill to Legislate CUPE 3903 back to work did not receive unanimous consent. The Legislature will reconvene on January 26th at 10:30 AM.
65 members voted – YES
8 members voted – NO
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION
• End the strike immediately.
• Impose daily fines of up to $2,000 per person against scofflaws who continue to strike.
• Send unresolved contract matters to arbitration.
• Enable CUPE and the university to agree to an arbitrator, but allow the government to name one if they are not able to achieve a consensus choice.
• Force arbitration to end within 90 days.
• Empower the arbitrator to take into consideration the university’s ability to pay, the economic situation of the province, and the competitiveness of the settlement when compared with other contracts.
Here is the Toronto Star article from this morning explaining what will happen now given that the bill did not receive unanimous consent:
Jan 25, 2009 01:21 PM
THE CANADIAN PRESS
The Ontario government has introduced back-to-work legislation to end the York University strike, but it appears unlikely to pass today.
Premier Dalton McGuinty was told by the province’s top labour mediator that there’s no reasonable prospect of a negotiated settlement between the university and the union representing contract faculty and other staff.
The strike has cancelled classes for about 50,000 students at the country’s third-largest university.
Passage of the back-to-work legislation would end the strike by about 3,300 workers, who have been off the job since Nov. 6.
But it requires unanimous consent to pass quickly, and the New Democrats say they’ll vote against the bill.
That means classes won’t start for at least several more days as the bill is debated on first, second and third readings.
York has seen three of the country’s five longest faculty association strikes. Saturday marked Day 80 of the current strike, while in 2001 there was a 78-day strike and in 1997 a strike lasted 55 days.
The length of those strikes are surpassed only by strikes at the University of Quebec in 1976-77 and Laval University in 1976, which both lasted about four months.
Here is another very interesting article. Tyler Shipley says that the Union is prepared to take the Government to court to overturn the legislation if it becomes necessary.
NDP to delay York U. reopening
QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU CHIEF
York University students will likely return to class a week tomorrow after Premier Dalton McGuinty recalls the Legislature today to introduce back-to-work legislation to end the 81-day strike by teaching assistants and contract faculty.
Hopes that the dispute would be over this afternoon evaporated when NDP Leader Howard Hampton said his party would not grant unanimous consent to the Liberal bill, meaning procedural debates will probably stall passage until late Wednesday.
York officials said that means classes could not begin until Feb. 2, extending the school year until June 2, and costing students one of the four months they have to work or study in summer.
Once the legislation is passed, the university’s senate executive needs time to review the revised faculty programs and approve the new semester schedule before classes can resume, said York spokesperson Alex Bilyk.
The students will be returning to a university that has been sharply divided by a bitter 11-week strike by 3,340 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Mamdouh Shoukri, York University’s president and vice-chancellor, said he will lead efforts to restore the university’s reputation and unity.
“We have a job to do … to rebuild this community and to reunite this community,” Shoukri said in an interview yesterday.
Shoukri said the NDP leader is “entitled to his opinion” but he supports any measure that gets students back to their studies.
“Everything we’ve done along the way was driven by a sincere desire to bring our students back to class as quickly as possible,” he said.
Union spokesperson Tyler Shipley said CUPE 3903 is considering challenging the back-to-work legislation in court.
“We are looking into whether or not this is something that can be challenged, and we’ll certainly take it seriously if it seems like that’s a possibility,” he said in an interview.
Hampton’s decision to withhold unanimous consent capped a dramatic day at Queen’s Park, which saw McGuinty reverse his earlier stance against legislating the strikers back to work.
“There is no … reasonable prospect of a resolution through the traditional bargaining process, so time’s up,” McGuinty said.
On Wednesday, he appointed Ontario’s chief mediator, Reg Pearson, “to bang a few heads together” and get contract talks back on track so that 50,000 students could resume their education.
At the time, the government predicted any back-to-work legislation could be challenged by CUPE under a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that said such moves are “only admissible (in) cases of essential services, administration of the State, clear deadlock, and national crisis.”
Noting that Pearson informed him of the stalemate early yesterday, the premier said “the parties are in deadlock – that’s one of the conditions that have to be met.”
For McGuinty – the self-styled “education premier” who has poured billions into teachers’ contracts, boosted funding to schools, colleges and universities, and enjoyed relative labour peace – the action is a bitter pill to swallow.
“The process did fail,” he said, criticizing York’s administration and empathizing with parents’ “anger” and resentment.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, York has sustained a bit of a black eye.
“They got themselves into a labour mess and students have paid the price.”
But Hampton said it is the Liberals who deserve a failing grade – for continuing to allow Ontario to lag behind other jurisdictions in post-secondary education funding despite increased investment.
“The McGuinty government talks a good line on education, but is last in Canada in terms of per capita funding of university education,” he said, emphasizing he is not concerned about the NDP being vilified for allowing the strike to continue. “I think the heat should be on the university to go back to the bargaining table.”
While McGuinty claimed that without unanimous consent from all three political parties today “it could take anywhere from one to two weeks at the outside” to end the strike, Hampton said there would be three or four days of debate at the most.
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory, whose party has urged back-to-work legislation for months and will support today’s bill, expressed outrage that the Liberals didn’t intervene until now.
“Better late than never,” said Tory, noting he was disappointed that, like Hampton, he learned of the back-to-work initiative from a government news release because the Liberals did not consult with the opposition. “(McGuinty) should be ashamed of himself that he’s let this go on so long,” he said.
To help those affected by the strike, McGuinty promised to extend the terms of government loans, but York Federation of Students president Hamid Osman said that was not good enough.
“Extending OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program) means you’re getting more students in debt,” said Osman.
“Students are eager to get back to the classroom. But our goal is for them to go back to the classroom and to receive a three-week refund at minimum. The school year has been shortened by three weeks,” he said.
This is the second time in less than a year that the Liberals have convened a hitherto rare Sunday session to legislate the end of a strike. Last April, a two-day Toronto Transit Commission walkout was derailed with weekend legislation backed by all three parties.
Enabling today’s sitting is more difficult than the April TTC session because the chamber is being renovated and there is scaffolding in both public galleries.
Workers, who hadn’t expected the House to reconvene until Feb. 17, scrambled yesterday to clean it up, replacing light bulbs and polishing dusty desks.