An open letter to the York University community

Vari Hall at night

York remains committed to a negotiated settlement with no strike.

Nothing is more important to York University than our students and their academic success.

We know what it means for students to finish their year as planned, so that they can begin summer jobs or, for our graduates, launch their careers and begin a new chapter in their lives.

On Friday afternoon, CUPE 3903 announced the results of their strike vote, which saw their members vote to give the union bargaining team a strike mandate. This doesn’t mean that there will necessarily be a strike. For that to happen, there needs to be a request by either party for a “no-board report.” It takes five to ten business days for a no-board report to be issued after which CUPE 3903 would be in a legal strike position, 17 days after the report has been issued.

1. There are still two ways for the Union and York to avoid a strike:

Continue to negotiate to reach fair renewed agreements.

Since the bargaining teams exchanged proposals on October 16, we have met 13 times with CUPE 3903. We are committed to continuing to meet, along with the Ministry of Labour conciliator, until an new Agreement is reached or there is a joint referral to arbitration.

Agree to go to interest arbitration to resolve any outstanding bargaining issues.

Since Day 1 of bargaining last September, we have repeatedly offered to send any issue on which we cannot agree to arbitration and if this occurred, the threat of a strike would be lifted.

An independent arbitrator would make a final binding decision fair to both sides. A strike would be avoided. The offer still stands and at no point has the Union said “No.”

2. We are making our leading compensation package even better.

With exceptional salary and funding rates, healthcare, dental care, subsidized childcare and other benefits from first day of employment, York’s total compensation package leads all other universities.

York’s teaching assistants and graduate assistants are now paid a minimum of $55.51 an hour. Contract faculty receive $17,470 for each full course they teach. They can earn up to $96,000 a year if they teach the maximum number of courses allowed.

Our first offer includes salary increases of 1.55 per cent – more than the union settled for in their last contract – and increases of between 10 to 33 per cent in childcare subsidies and other benefits.

3. More than 100 CUPE proposals are still on the table.

CUPE has made more than 110 demands with a projected total cost of $48 million, a 57 per cent increase to the cost of the current collective agreement. The York and CUPE 3903 bargaining teams have only agreed to 12.

CUPE 3903 has to date rejected all of the eight proposals made by York.

We want to avoid any impact to the academic year and disruption to the lives of every member of the York University community that a strike would cause.

We acknowledge the result of the vote today and are committed to making every reasonable effort to reach a renewed collective agreement without a strike. We are counting on the same commitment from CUPE 3903.


Lisa Philipps
Interim Vice-President Academic & Provost
Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University