TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ – After waiting in vain for the past critical day and a half for York University to negotiate an eleventh hour settlement, the union representing striking contract professors and teaching, graduate and research assistants says it is shifting gears and preparing for members to return to the classroom. “It is obvious that the York administration has no desire, indeed has never intended to reach a negotiated settlement,” said CUPE 3903 spokesperson Tyler Shipley. “We have done everything in our power to stand up for the quality and accessibility of education at York in this round of negotiations but, for now, it’s time to get our students back to class. Our local has decided not to pursue a legal challenge to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s back-to-work legislation at this time.” CUPE 3903 Chair Christina Rousseau noted that the local’s 3300 members “have fought a courageous fight against an administration who put their own narrow vision ahead of the interests of students, academic integrity, job security and workers rights.” Shipley added, “Our members have shown tremendous determination, but they are tired of waiting for York to take the process seriously. Undergrad students are looking for some assurances. We aren’t going to let the university’s game continue. It is time for someone to take responsibility for getting campus life back to normal.” The Liberal government should not imagine that back-to-work legislation resolves any of the key issues in the strike, particularly the reliance of universities on underpaid, contingent workers to do most classroom teaching. “Our concerns are not going away, they are systemic and go well beyond the York campus,” noted Shipley, adding that the local will continue to address the trend to insecure teaching jobs, the need for minimum funding guarantees for graduate students, and the value of coordinated bargaining through other channels. “These issues are still alive at York and across the province. We’ll be working with our sister locals to make sure they are addressed in ways that protect the interests of workers, students and hardworking parents who are being asked to shell out more tuition fees every year,” said Rousseau. “Unless administrators change their priorities and the Ontario government invests in our universities, they should brace themselves for more job actions in the coming years.”
There is no doubt in my mind that school will resume on Monday. It is unfortunate that this strike had to last for so long.