York University issued the following media release yesterday about the strike by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903, representing teaching assistants (Unit 1), contract faculty (Unit 2) and graduate assistants (Unit 3).
On Wednesday, Jan. 21, Premier McGuinty announced that he would send in his top mediator, Reg Pearson, and provide him “with a limited amount of time to explore the possibilities of bringing the sides together” to “give this one more shot.” York welcomed this initiative and looked forward to working with the mediator in an effort to reach a settlement.
Unfortunately CUPE 3903’s offer still had 42 outstanding proposals and put back on the table a significant proposal that had previously been withdrawn by CUPE 3903, thereby pushing the parties farther apart:
- CUPE 3903 put back on the table a "Minimum Guarantee" proposal for Unit 3 members. The cost of this proposal alone represented an increase of 23 per cent ($1.6 million) to the current Unit 3 agreement.
- CUPE 3903 also increased its proposal for Unit 3 GA bursary funds above the amounts previously tabled.
CUPE 3903 also continued to demand a two-year collective agreement in an effort to coordinate future strike activity with other CUPE Ontario locals in 2010.
The total cost of CUPE 3903’s proposals was still at 15 per cent over two years or 7.5 per cent per year on average. The University’s offer for settlement was 10.7 per cent over three years or 3.5 per cent per year on average.
York’s President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri said:
“York’s bargaining team spent over 40 days in negotiations with CUPE 3903 beginning in July of last year. After six months, which included 11 weeks on strike, the union’s last offer was still more than double the University’s offer for settlement. That is an impasse by any standards.
"Two independent Ontario mediators also confirmed that negotiations were at an impasse," he said.
"York has tried to get our 50,000 students back to class at the earliest possible moment and offered to accept binding arbitration before the strike began.
"Our primary and fundamental interest is getting our students back to class as soon as possible and this legislation is the only certain way now to make this happen. The parties are in deadlock and the summer term is now in jeopardy – we need to get these students back to class immediately."