The following is a message to the community from York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton:
Earlier on Wednesday, the Ontario government passed ‘Back to Class’ legislation, which officially marks the end of the strike by CUPE 3903 Unit 1, representing our teaching assistants, and Unit 3, representing graduate assistants.
We were pleased to welcome our contract faculty members (Unit 2) back to work on June 16, when they voted to accept the University’s offer, and we are grateful that all our CUPE colleagues will now be returning.
These past five months have been challenging for all members of the York community, most especially for our students.
We appreciate that not everyone may view the legislated return to work as the best way to resolve the strike; however, after the efforts by both parties were unable to lead to a negotiated settlement, Wednesday’s legislative help has ensured that we are able to come together as a community and to continue to put the interests of our students first.
We are a strong, diverse and inclusive community, and despite the challenges we have faced, I know we will pull together to regain momentum and to strengthen our relationships with each other. I am extremely proud and appreciative of the collective efforts of our outstanding colleagues – students, faculty, and staff alike – and I am deeply committed to reflecting on what we have learned from this challenging period, taking steps to ensure that our CUPE colleagues feel welcomed and supported, and finding common ground and opportunities to do things differently and better to avoid such an impasse in the future.
I know that we all care deeply for our community. In the short-term, our focus is on helping our students return to class. In the longer term, we look forward to meeting with the union executive and finding new ways to make changes that will ensure we can continue to provide all students with access to a high-quality research-intensive learning experience, graduate globally educated citizens, and strengthen the quality of our teaching, research and campus experience for all.
Our future is bright, and while challenges remain for our community and for the post-secondary sector as a whole, I hope you will join me in welcoming the end of the strike, and in coming together to redouble our efforts to showcase York University as a leader in the GTA and around the world.