York urges CUPE to ‘step back from the brink’

All three units of CUPE 3903 voted against York University’s offer for settlement in a supervised vote that took place Monday and Tuesday.

The results of the vote on the University’s offer, announced last night, are as follows: Unit 1 (teaching assistants), 62 per cent opposed; Unit 2 (contract faculty), 59 per cent opposed; and Unit 3 (graduate assistants), 70 per cent opposed.

“We made it clear before the vote that we were making a fair, reasonable and comprehensive offer to settle the contract, especially in this worsening economic climate,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “The union characterized our offer to its members as a negotiating tactic, but it was not. We have no intention of negotiating for the sake of appearance. This is our offer for settlement. Now it is up to the union and its members to reconsider their demands and step back from the brink.”

Shoukri said the parties are at an impasse and the summer term is in jeopardy.

“We know this is extremely hard on our students. At the same time we simply cannot sacrifice the University’s long-term academic future, or its financial stability, for short-term goals. Nor are we prepared to subject our students to another strike in 2010.”

After six months of negotiations and eleven weeks on strike, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903, representing contract faculty, graduate assistants, and teaching assistants, continues to seek increases totalling 15.8 per cent over two years (7.9 per cent per year), the University said in a statement last night. This is more than double the University’s total offer of 10.7 per cent over three years (3.6 per cent per year).

The union is also demanding that the University convert contract faculty to full-time academic positions based only on seniority, without review and without evaluation of their academic and research capabilities, the University said.

To date the University has not received any comprehensive offer from the union to settle the strike. When negotiations ended Jan. 9, the union still had more than 75 separate demands on the table.

“The clock has run out on CUPE,” Shoukri said. “I will be working with the deans and Senate Executive to prepare plans to further extend the academic calendar to ensure that students complete their fall and winter terms. This will mean reducing or, if need be, cancelling the summer term.”

The University will issue a communication to all students and their families explaining the University’s contingency plans for the academic year and the detrimental implications of conceding to CUPE 3903’s contract demands.

Students should monitor www.registrar.yorku.ca/disruption for class scheduling information updates.