Union may fight back-to-work bill

Jan 28, 2009 12:01 PM


The union representing striking workers at York University says it’s preparing a legal challenge of provincial legislation that would force teachers back to work.

CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan says the government-backed bill, which is expected to pass Thursday, won’t make the issues at the heart of the strike go away.

He says union lawyers are prepping their case, which can only be launched after the bill is passed.

Premier Dalton McGuinty wouldn’t say whether the government has a plan to deal with the potential roadblock.

The union renewed their call for McGuinty to force the university to resume negotiations, but the premier says it’s clear the bargaining process has failed.

Some 50,000 students saw classes cancelled on Nov. 6 when 3,400 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job.



I am not a lawyer so I could be wrong, but this looks like the Union is trying to prolong and maintain the strike but challenging the bill. Do Bills become law the minute they are approved by the Legislatures and their associated assemblies? If the Union challenges the Bill, is it in effect until and if a judge rules against the Bill? In simpler terms, would CUPE workers have to return to work until the Bill gets shot down, or is the Bill legally binding even if it is being challenged and thus they would be breaching the Law by refusing to work?

Perhaps there are some lawyers or law students out there that could shed some light on this.








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What Happened Today


CUPE protesters outside of Queens Park

CUPE protesters outside of Queen's Park

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday he’s “more than prepared” to urge York University to resume bargaining, but will still move ahead with back-to-work legislation to end the strike at Canada’s third-largest university.

“We will assume our responsibility,” McGuinty told the legislature.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that we get young people back in the classroom at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which hasn’t ruled out a court challenge of the back-to-work bill, blames the university for the deadlock.

Union officials called on the government Tuesday to give bargaining one more chance, saying if the premier throws his weight around an agreement can be reached before the bill is passed, eliminating the need for a court challenge.

The union said it made every effort to resolve the dispute — even dropping its wage demands — when a top provincial mediator was dispatched last week by McGuinty in a last-ditch effort to end the strike.

“Now is the moment. If ever there was a crunch, it was now,” said Tyler Shipley, a spokesman for CUPE Local 3903.

“We want to go back to class. We want to go back to work.”

The union’s last offer was more than double the university’s offer for settlement, York president Mamdouh Shoukri countered.

“That is an impasse by any standards,” he said in a statement.

A government spokeswoman said McGuinty spoke with Shoukri and encouraged him to keep talking with the union, but York spokesman Alex Bilyk said late Tuesday afternoon there were no plans to restart negotiations.

Growing frustration over the protracted labour dispute spilled over into a confrontation with police during a union-organized march to the legislature.

Four people were arrested during the rally that repeated the call to restart negotiations. One person faces charges of assaulting a police officer.

“Negotiate, don’t legislate,” teaching assistant Noaman Ali chanted to the crowd of some 200 people.

Wayne Samuelson, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, told the rally the government “should pass a law to send your employer back to the bargaining table so you can negotiate a collective agreement.”

Lydie Brawer saw the protest from an office building across the street, threw on a coat, and went over to confront them.

“I want my kids to go back to school,” said the mother of two York students — one in fourth year who’s in jeopardy of not graduating, and a son in first year who she said has “lost his appetite” for university.

“I sympathize with (the striking workers), but that’s enough now. They have to think about the kids.”

Some 75 people later broke off from the main rally and headed to the police station where the four arrested individuals were taken.

The crowd was confronted with barricades, some 25 police officers and nine officers on horseback before the peaceful demonstration dispersed after about 30 minutes.

The 12-week strike has also angered many York students, who fear their entire semester may be wasted if their teachers don’t return to the classroom soon.

Pushing York University back to the table isn’t going to help, said Catherine Divaris, who helped organize a coalition of fellow students who oppose the strike.

“They’ve been trying to negotiate for 12 weeks, I mean, what’s the point?” she said.

“We’re so close to getting back to class now, that would just be devastating. I think students … would just lose complete faith in this entire process.”

The coalition is organizing a students rally at the legislature Wednesday to demand action to end the strike.

McGuinty said the government will also look into establishing a commission that would determine when the studies of college or university students are in jeopardy due to a strike or lockout.

The premier recalled the legislature last weekend to introduce the back-to-work bill, hoping all parties would agree to pass it quickly.

The New Democrats oppose it, and have shot down every attempt to speed its passage in the legislature.

That means the legislation may not become law until Thursday, and students will have to wait until next week to return to class.

Some 50,000 students saw classes cancelled on Nov. 6 when 3,400 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job.

About 5,000 students were allowed back this week to attend courses taught by tenured professors.




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4 arrested at York demonstration

Jan 27, 2009 03:50 PM

Staff Reporter

Four people were arrested today on charges of assaulting police officers outside Queen’s Park during a rally against the proposed legislation to send striking York University employees back to work.

Toronto police received calls about the demonstration around noon, said Toronto police Const. Tony Vella.

Several police officers, and at least a dozen cruisers from various units arrived at Queen’s Park shortly after, he said.

Two men and two women were arrested on charges of assault, assaulting a police officer, and obstructing police.

Four police officers received minor injuries in the incident, Vella said.

The four suspects were protesters, Vella said, but added he did not know their affiliation to the university. They are being processed at 52 Division headquarters.

During the rally, organized by CUPE local 3903, protesters met outside the Ministry of Labour around 10 a.m. and then marched to Queen’s Park.

Premier Dalton McGuinty recalled the legislature on the weekend to introduce a bill aimed at ending the 12-week strike at Canada’s third-largest university.

The bill is supported by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives but the New Democrats oppose it.

That means the legislation may not become law until Thursday, and students will have to wait until at least next week to return to class.

The union says McGuinty should use the time before the bill passes to restart the bargaining process.

About 50,000 students saw classes cancelled on Nov. 6 when 3,400 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job.

About 5,000 students were able to return this week to attend courses taught by tenured professors under a special deal with the university.



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A Reminder

I must, unfortunately, remind everyone again that you ARE LEGALLY LIABLE for your language, words and comments posted here. Any threats, insinuations of threats, violent language, derogatory comments etc. HAVE REPERCUSSIONS.

Please remember to keep all of your comments clean and productive.

I invite everyone to email me (see Contact Info for my email address) to report inappropriate comments and I will deal with them accordingly. 


Thank you


Comments Off on A Reminder

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Info on Law Suit

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is there a cost to Class Members of joining the Class Action?


Class Members (You) are not liable to pay any of the expenses of the litigation, whether lawyers’ fees or costs. Recovery of costs and other expenses is contingent upon a recovery being obtained (meaning a settlement with York University is reached or damages are awarded by a court). If no recovery is obtained, Class Members will owe nothing for costs and other expenses.

The sole contingency upon which Juroviesky & Ricci shall be compensated is a recovery in the litigation (meaning a settlement with York University is reached or damages are awarded by a court), whether by settlement or judgment. Juroviesky & Ricci will request that the court approve legal fees of 25% of the total recovery in addition to the Juroviesky & Ricci reasonable disbursements in the litigation plus applicable taxes. “Disbursements” shall include but not be limited to costs of travel expenses, telephone, copying, fax transmission, depositions, investigators, messengers, mediation expenses, computer research fees, other computer service fees, court fees, expert fees, other consultation, class action and paralegal fees and expenses. Any recovery in the litigation shall first be used to reimburse disbursements.

In the event that the litigation is resolved by settlement under terms involving any “in-kind” payment, the contingency fee agreement shall apply to such “in-kind” payment.

What about the former Class Action filed against York University because of the strike in 2000?

In 2000, a Class Action was launched by the law offices of Polten & Hodder (Ciano v. York University). This action was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice before it reached the Certification level. York University made a motion for Summary Judgment on the basis that there was no genuine issue for trial in that there was no “evidence of damages sustained as a result of the strike which was an essential element of the cause of action” and that “[l]oss of class time was not proof of the damages.”

The reason that our Class Action against York University is different than Ciano v. York University is that our claims arise from legislation whereas Ciano v. York University was based solely on common-law principles. Our claims are being made under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 which was not in effect in 2000 when the previous Class Action was launched. Unlike in the Ciano v. York University action, under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 actual damages need not be proven.

If I withdrew from my classes, am I eligible to sign up for the Class Action?

If you withdrew from your winter or fall semester classes and received a full refund of the tuition you paid, you continue to be eligible to sign up for the Class Action. However, any money you have already received from York University cannot be claimed again by signing up. If you have received a refund from York University, the only damages you may receive in the event of recovery in the litigation (meaning a settlement is reached or damages are awarded by a court) is the non-refunded tuition, and those damages outside of the tuition for which you already received a refund.

Additionally, if you have withdrawn from either your fall or winter semester at York University, and you have received no refund from York University, you are eligible to sign up.

Naturally, in the case where the action is unsuccessful, you may receive NO lost tuition or costs.

What if the “Back-to-Work Legislation” is passed?

If the “Back-to Work Legislation” is passed, it will have no effect on the Class Action itself. The action is based on the Consumer Protection Act, 2002, in that York University students are entitled to receive the level and quality of education that they were told they would receive upon paying their tuition. If the Striking Workers return to work, there will be no effect on the past three months and the detrimental effect the Strike has had on the quality of education York University Students would receive.

In the event of recovery in the litigation, what kind of damages are you seeking?

The Statement of Claim is currently seeking the widest range of damages possible. For example such items as loss of income; tuition reimbursement; reimbursement for housing; and other living costs, etc. However the court always has the ability to rule out certain types of damages in our claim, and as such, the claim for damages may be narrowed significantly by the court before or after Class Certification.

Should I return to classes at York University?

This action should have no effect on your decision to return to classes at York University in the event that the “Back-to-Work Legislation” is passed. Regardless of your personal choice of returning to York University or not, you will continue to be eligible to sign up for the Class Action.

May I be punished academically or otherwise by York University for my participation in this Class Action?

York University does not have a policy in writing (that was available to us), regarding expulsion for bringing a cause of action against the University. Nonetheless, everyone in Canada has a right to be able to pursue legal action against any organization, individual, or authority that breaches a contract or fails to provide a service within the specified terms of an agreement. York University is responsible for providing students with an education within and expected period allotted (as pleaded in the Statement of Claim), and any extension of the semester or term would be in violation of the agreement made between them and students. Unless Students agreed in writing to terms stating that York University may expel students and/or void their legal right to sue the school under a valid cause of action, then York CANNOT expel any students for participating in this Class Action and participating in a legal cause of action.

Furthermore, it’s highly unlikely that York is going to expel 20%+ of its student body for being members of an injured Class.


Frequently Asked Questions

Press Released from Juroviesky and Ricci LLP:

TORONTO, Jan. 25 /CNW/ – In the wake of the Ontario government’s failure to acquire a unanimous consensus regarding the passage of the York University back-to-work legislation, the law offices of Juroviesky and Ricci LLP have filed a class action lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against York University alleging class wide violations of various statutory and common law duties to the students of York University.

The suit claims that the students of York University are entitled to a refund of the students’ tuition and other fees paid to York, and for damages (direct and indirect) for losses suffered by students enrolled in full and part time programs at York University for the Fall/Winter 2008/2009 semester. For further details, please see the press release and materials posted on Juroviesky and Ricci’s website www.yorktookmymoney.com and/or www.jrclassactions.com.

According to Henry Juroviesky of Juroviesky and Ricci LLP, “It’s unfortunate that this matter has evolved into a stalemate labor negotiation between York University and the Union, and has lost its primary focal point, namely the welfare of the York University students, and as such the only practical option the students have for immediate relief and the possibility to salvage their academic track is via the court system through this class action.”

Note that the detailed statement of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice is the result of an extensive and independent investigation conducted by Juroviesky and Ricci LLP. In respect of Canada, to the knowledge of Juroviesky and Ricci LLP, no other statement of claim has been filed in this matter against the Defendant and no other law firms, as at the time of filing its statement of claim, represent plaintiffs in this litigation.

Because lawyers at Juroviesky and Ricci LLP have conducted a thorough investigation on this matter, they are in a superior position to answer questions about the claims alleged in the statement of claim, and can be contacted to discuss this case through the telephone number and/or e-mail address indicated below.
To be included as a lead or representative plaintiff on this matter, you must meet certain legal requirements. If you would like to join this class action as a lead or representative plaintiff, join as a class member, or otherwise be included in the York University Class Action database, please visit the following website:
www.yorktookmymoney.com and provide us with the information requested.

More information on this and other class actions can be found on the Juroviesky and Ricci LLP Class Action website at www.jrclassactions.com.


Statement of Claim:

You can read the Statement of Claim or the charges on York University by the Plaintiff Jonathan Turner. They are pretty  much going after them for unjust enrichment, breach of contract and breach of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).


You can read the full document here: Statement of Claim

You may join the Suit by filling out the form at: http://www.yorktookmymoney.com/


This information will be permanently available under the header title Class Action Law Suit Info


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York U Students File Class Action Lawsuit As Politicians Debate Back-To-Work Legislation

Monday January 26, 2009


Tens of thousands of York University students had their hopes of a quick return to class dashed this past weekend as back-to-work legislation that would’ve ended a months-long strike by teaching assistants and contract staff was held up by the New Democrats.

The NDP voted against the bill, supported by both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, in a rare Sunday session at Queen’s Park. Leader Howard Hampton argued, in rejecting the proposal, that striking workers do half of the teaching at York University but only receive a fraction of the salary.

“I think adequate funding for Ontario’s universities is something we should all be interested in,” he noted, adding York should be shouldering the blame for the extended stoppage more so than his party.

“The university was never interested in bargaining,” Hampton insisted. “They wanted to lock the students out there in the street and they were hoping the government would come and sweep all this under the carpet, which we think may be illegal.”

The Liberal government admitted that unless the NDP changes its mind students likely won’t be back to the books this week. Politicians headed back to the legislature Monday to continue the debate.

“I think it’s important that there be a debate on this legislation itself, on the government’s underfunding of post-secondary education, and on the need to address that if we’re going to avoid this in the months down the road at every community college and university in Ontario,” noted New Democrat Peter Kormos.

About 5,000 students in particular programs were able to return to class Monday because of a special agreement made in the past week covering certain programs including the Schulich School of Business. Those classes are being taught by instructors not taking part in the labour action.

“It’s quite different,” noted student Daniel Fahim, one of those let back after 11 weeks away. “It’s weird to come back to class.”

Others felt conflicted about the return.

“It’s kind of a mixture of feelings,” student Christine Kang explained. “Yes I know for sure I’ll actually get my term but it’s really frustrating because we’ve been off for two and a half months. You probably forget everything.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty sent in his top mediator to assist in bringing both sides together last week, but no agreement was reached. 

Thursday is the earliest a back-to-work bill could be passed, so at this point the school likely won’t reopen until February at the earliest.

Some picketers say they are disappointed with the government.

“What’s the point of having unions if they will make it illegal for them to go on strike?,” asked CUPE 3903 picket captain Xavier Scott. “Unions are a cornerstone of the democracy. Whether or not you support this particular strike, or whether or not you have problems with unions, I think everybody has to admit at the end of the day that (striking) is an integral part of the democratic process and workers’ rights across the country.”

The Opposition claims the Liberals were slow to react.

“Your mismanagement took them from being pawns of the university and the union to being pawns between the Liberals and the NDP,” charged Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman at Queen’s Park. “And for that shameful political posturing the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities should resign.”

And in a statement, P.C. Leader John Tory argued, “Students are suffering at the hand of the Premier, yet all he has to offer them is the promise of additional OSAP funding, which really means more debt. That’s just not good enough. Students just don’t deserve to have more debt and more interest charges because Dalton McGuinty chose to ignore their plight for weeks.

“Our Party has been calling for action on this since November. Now that students are facing an extra month of rent, less time for summer jobs and a change in travel plans to get home, this government must find a way to finally offer up some real assistance.”

MPP John Milloy, who’s in charge of the Colleges and Universities portfolio, responded, “When it became apparent there was a deadlock we’ve taken the action of recalling the legislature. And we call on all members of the legislature, particularly those in the New Democratic Party, to not hold up the education of 50,000-plus students.”

But while there’s no action in many of the university’s classes, there may be some hope for affected students, as a Toronto law firm has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the pupils, claiming they’re entitled to a refund for their tuition costs and other fees.

“We’re asking for $250 million in general damages,” explains lawyer Henry Juroviesky. “They have a diminution in the value of their educational degrees, they have a diminution in value and quality of their education, they also have indirect damages.”


To find out how to stake your claim, click here.

York officials would only say they’ll review the suit and defend it on merit.

But Juroviesky says hundreds of students have already signed on, with many more to join, though some would prefer to simply save the cash and head back to school.

“I’d rather have my credits than the money,” admitted student Stephanie Gyles. “I don’t really think I need the money I just want the credits.”

The strike, which began November 6, affects 50,000 students at the university. The school says there are no plans to refund tuition. Students will have no reading week and a shorter exam period in order for the school year to end on June 2.



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York strike may last another week

Posted: January 26, 2009, 3:59 PM by Ronald Nurwisah 


Photo: It may be another week before back to work legislation can be passed and York University students get back to class. (Peter J. Thompson/National Post)

By Allison Hanes and Sarah Millar

Update: Sarah Millar is reporting on Monday’s debate at Queen’s Park via Twitter. Get her live updates here. 


It could be another week before York University students resume classes after the Ontario New Democratic Party refused on Sunday to help fast-track back-to-work legislation introduced at Queen’s Park to end an 80-day strike by teaching assistants and contract professors.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty convened an emergency session of the provincial legislature in order to salvage the school year for 50,000 students, after a mediator’s last-ditch attempt to resolve the labour dispute around the bargaining table ended in what he called a “deadlock.”

Arriving at Queen’s Park on Sunday, Infrastructure and Energy Minister George Smitherman called the bill “back-to-learning” legislation.

But the session quickly adjourned until today when the NDP caucus withheld its consent to waive first reading of the labour bill. The opposition party’s agreement would have expedited the law’s passage — which requires three readings before it receives royal assent — as happened last April when the Ontario legislature voted unanimously during an extraordinary Sunday session to terminate a day-old strike by Toronto Transit Commission workers.

NDP leader Howard Hampton on Sunday vowed “full debate” on the bill.

The move could push its final passage to the end of the week.

“We’re going to point out that these workers do 54% of the teaching at York University, get only 7.5% of the budget. We believe in full and principled debate,” Mr. Hampton said. “We’re not going to be part of what we think has been a manipulative process from the beginning.”

Progressive Conservative leader John Tory chided Mr. McGuinty for waiting so long to intervene in the strike that has suspended classes for 11 weeks. But he also lamented the NDP’s decision to slow down the return to class at the 11th hour.

“Mr. Hampton is advocating a point of principle that we all understand is something the NDP believes in. I respect that but I think he could have done that today,” he said. “He could have said all he wanted to say in several hours of debate today, he could have voted against the bill — which I’m sure he will do — and then we could have had people back to work tomorrow. I hope he does that tomorrow.”

The Conservative caucus will do everything it can to speed passage of the law, Mr. Tory promised, including limiting all speeches to the one-hour allotted for opening remarks during the debate.

He said neither Mr. McGuinty nor Mr. Hampton have put the interests of students first.

“I’ve been told by the students and by their parents every day counts now,” Mr. Tory said. “These kids have a lot of work to do to catch up. They have summer jobs they want to get, they have permanent jobs they want to take and I just think we are putting their interests behind those of others if we don’t act right away to get this school open, York University open post haste and I think that means Tuesday. It should have been Monday.”

Ontario Labour Minister Peter Fonseca called the NDP’s stalling tactics “unfortunate.” He called on the party to help move the process forward now that they’ve made their point.

“The NDP first off, can stop this right now, and allow students to get back into the classroom tomorrow,” he said. “We’re focused on getting the teachers into the lecture halls, into the labs, and getting the students in their seats learning. We’ll move as quickly as we possibly can and we would hope that the NDP would come on board and do the same.”

Alex Bilyk, a spokesman for York, said what day classes will resume depends on what day the back-to-work bill gets royal assent, since the university is obligated to give students 24-hours notice.

“So if it passes on Monday, they’d be in class on Wednesday,” Mr. Bilyk said. “If it passes on Tuesday they’d be in class Thursday. Wednesday on Friday. And if on Thursday it would have to be on Feb. 2, which is on a Monday.”

York undergraduate students have been out of class since Nov. 6 when the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 voted to walk off the job. Negotiations broke down in late November and talks did not resume until January.

The 80-day strike has eclipsed the 2000 CUPE strike, when the same union was out for 72-days. In that strike, classes were not cancelled for students officially, though some professors didn’t teach courses.

To avoid any confusion this time around, the university’s senate decided to suspend class for all students.

Hamid Osman, president of the York Federation of Students, said on Sunday another week’s delay getting back to class is frustrating, but he placed blame for the entire fiasco at the feet of the Ontario government.

“It annoys me that it’s been so long,” he said. “My frustrations go from the McGuinty government not investing in post-secondary education, it goes to York University, with three strikes in 10 years. Our frustrations are all around. Students want to be back in the classroom learning and graduating. Everyday counts. It’s counted since Nov. 6.”

Mr. Osman called for York to give students a 12% refund on their tuition given their terms will be truncated by about three weeks. Both Mr. Hampton and Mr. Tory said some kind of assistance for students is warranted.

Mr. McGuinty mentioned extra loans could be made available.

But Mr. Bilyk, the York spokesman, said a rebate is out of the question since the university is going to “deliver” on the school year, albeit belatedly.

As soon as classes resume, the fall term will be completed followed by a brief exam period. Then winter classes will start in a condensed term that will end by the start of June.

Catherine Divaris, co-organizer of YorkNotHostage, which currently has more than 5,000 members, said jubilantly she and others in the group are “absolutely elated,” by the latest development.

“I think we all knew York and the union would not be able to agree on sticky issues,” she said in an interview on Sunday. “It is very late in the game, but at least McGuinty did call the legislature and introduce the bill.”

She added the delay due to the NDP slowing passage of the bill was disappointing but predictable.

“We figured the NDP would do this,” she said. “It’s kind of ironic that the NDP claims to support students and they’re not doing anything to get us back into the classroom after an 11-week long break.”

York University student Kriss Bacon, founder of the Facebook group 50,000 Against York U, called the Ontario government’s bill “too little, too late.”

“I’m already losing 12% of my instruction time and 33% of my yearly income opportunities,” he said.

Earlier last week, members of CUPE 3903, voted 63% against accepting a settlement offer from York.

The ratification vote, supervised by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, was forced on the 3,340 union members after the union leaders refused to put the offer to a vote.

Afterward, the province announced it was sending in a top mediator. But on Saturday, mediator Reg Pearson told the Premier there was “no reasonable prospect of a negotiated settlement.”

The university said the rejected deal, which includes a wage and benefits increase of 10.7% over the duration, represented a reasonable offer. But CUPE said it’s not about wages.

“These are people who have been teaching at York for 15, sometimes 20 years. They have to reapply for every single course they teach,”said Tyler Shipley, a spokesman for the union, as more than 100 CUPE members protested outside.



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