Posted January 26, 2009
York University

Ontario acts to save academic year

Legislation requires York University to resume operations

TORONTO - The Ontario government has introduced legislation that would require an end to the deadlocked labour dispute and require York University to resume its normal operations. The proposed legislation governs labour disputes between York University and three bargaining units from the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 (CUPE 3903).

The legislation, if passed, would require any strike or lock-out at York University to be terminated. Striking York University workers would be required to return to their jobs.

All outstanding issues would be referred to binding arbitration. York University and CUPE 3903 would have five days to agree on an arbitrator, or one would be appointed by the Minister of Labour.

"Our government respects and believes in the collective bargaining process," said Labour Minister Peter Fonseca. "Unfortunately, in this case, the parties became deadlocked after a 12-week strike. We must act now to get 45,000 students back in class."

- Collective agreements between York University and CUPE 3903 union expired on August 31, 2008

- The strike by approximately 3,400 workers began on November 6, 2008

- More than 45,000 students have been unable to attend classes for 80 days at Canada's third largest university.

Back-to-work law is wrong way to settle York strike, says Sid Ryan

TORONTO - Premier Dalton McGuinty should be telling the York University administration to go back to the bargaining table instead of introducing back-to-work legislation to end the strike by members of CUPE 3903, says CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan.

"We are firmly opposed to legislation that ends the collective bargaining process," said Ryan. "There is no reason to bring that process to a close when the union has tabled a much altered position."

Ryan welcomed the decision by the Ontario NDP to refuse unanimous consent for introducing legislation today (Jan.25).

"The NDP is standing up for the rights of workers," he said. "And, they are creating additional time that could be used by the parties to negotiate a settlement before the bill is passed. McGuinty should be telling York's administration to get back to the table immediately instead of relying on the provincial government to do their work for them."

If McGuinty truly wants to help resolve the key issues in the strike, said Janice Folk-Dawson, chair of the CUPE Ontario university workers coordinating committee, he should put adequate funding into the province's postsecondary sector.

"With adequate funding, York wouldn't have to deny job security and decent incomes to contract faculty who do more than 50% of the teaching. The same applies at all other universities in Ontario," she said. "It's time to address the issue of contract work in a serious way."

Sid Ryan will address a rally by CUPE 3903 members and supporters at 12 noon at Queen's Park.

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