President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri has issued this message:
As we head into the traditional end of year holiday period, I want to emphasize to the broader York community how much I share everyone’s concern with the CUPE 3903 strike and the effect that it is having on all of us, particularly our students and their families.
In Ontario, labour unions have the right to strike for their demands, should a majority of their voting membership choose to do so. However, along with this right comes the obligation, which weighs on us all, to consider the effect of our actions, particularly upon those with whom we have no direct disagreement and who have been deprived of their voice and of their academic lives.
It is also incumbent on us to reach an agreement that is fair to the entire York community and sustainable in the long-term.
I understand that frustration has been mounting on many sides. This is why, twice in the past month, I and the entire senior executive of the University have attended two open Town Hall meetings – one as recently as last week – moderated by the chair of Senate. The meetings were open to all community members and were expressly set up to give everyone a fair and equal voice in a civil and reasoned atmosphere.
As befits an academic institution, opinions were expressed from every side. The questions continued until everyone had had a chance to speak and then continued afterwards in one-on-one and smaller group discussions. This was the York community at its best.
As we enter the holiday period, the University’s bargaining team remains ready to meet with CUPE 3903 as soon as an indication is received through the mediator that it would be productive to do so. Although the University is officially closed, our senior executive and the bargaining team will remain in close contact on a daily basis.
The University is ready to return to the negotiating table at any time over the break, as soon as it is clear that such a meeting with CUPE 3903 would be productive and move us toward a realistic settlement.
The University officially re-opens on Jan. 5, 2009. It is my strong desire that significant progress is made over the holiday period so that we can begin 2009 on a more optimistic note.
Our first and most urgent priority is to get our students back in the classroom in short order.
I wish you and your families all the very best for the holiday season and I hope very much for a new start as soon as possible in January 2009.