CUPE 3903 rejects sector-leading offer, University remains open

York U
Vari Hall

After six months of bargaining, CUPE 3903 formally rejected York University’s best offer Friday. At the same time, CUPE 3903 announced that its members had passed a motion to allow for bargaining over the weekend.

For bargaining to resume, the union indicated that it needs to see meaningful movement on a list of 20 issues that it refers to as “red-line,” including significant increases and fundamental changes to York University’s best offer. The list was submitted by CUPE 3903, working through the mediator, to York University’s bargaining team Friday night.

The CUPE 3903 list includes:

• Wage increases – notwithstanding York University’s offer of wage increases of 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 per cent over the next three years (which exceeds settlements at any other Ontario university);
• More money for childcare subsidies and benefit plans in addition to the increases of between 10 to 33 per cent that the University has already proposed;
• Guaranteed employment for graduate assistants; and
• Significant automatic transfer of employees to tenure stream faculty positions without an open search.

The union indicated that it was prepared to return to the table if there was going to be meaningful movement on these issues, which it described as red-line for its members.

York University has done everything possible to avoid a strike
On March 1, York University provided its best offer as requested by the union. The union has not made a counter offer, nor has the union indicated that they see any basis for a settlement in the University’s offer.

The list provided by CUPE 3903 through the mediator is not a counter offer that could be used to resume negotiations.

Too far apart to reach an agreement
After extensive discussion Friday evening and following careful review of CUPE 3903’s lengthy and largely unchanged list of demands shared through the mediator, CUPE 3903’s positions remain too far apart from the University’s best offer to return to bargaining at this time.

CUPE 3903 total compensation leads all Ontario universities
Total compensation for York University’s teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract faculty leads all other Ontario universities. The University’s best offer makes that package even better and ensures CUPE 3903 members will continue to lead all other Ontario universities.

Union has rejected Interest Arbitration
Interest Arbitration could address the difficult issues and prevent a strike. York University’s offer to go to arbitration to resolve the difficult issues on which the two parties cannot agree, which has been rejected by CUPE 3903, still stands.

This would allow an independent third party to decide what’s fair and make a binding decision. The strike would be avoided.

CUPE 3903 demands still unreasonable
CUPE 3903 has tabled more than 110 demands since negotiations began last fall, representing a 57 per cent increase to the cost of the previous collective agreement, and it includes major changes to academic hiring and decision making. After six months of bargaining, in the last days of February, almost all of these demands were still on the table. While the union reduced its demands earlier this week, the revisions were still far outside university norms. In the face of this, York University made its best offer.

University to remain open during a strike
Nothing is more important to York University than its students and their success.

As such, York University will remain open during the strike. Classes that can be held, will be held. Libraries, restaurants and other food services, administrative offices and other services will remain open. Information will be posted this weekend that will allow students to see the status of their courses.

For information and answers to questions about the strike, go to