Striking York U faculty reject offer in forced ratification vote

(Photo by Kit Kolbegger.)
Marchers hold a sign saying “CUPE killed Rhonda’s Rat” during a demonstration immediately after the results of a forced ratification vote in the York University strike came through. CUPE 3903 members, from York’s striking faculty, were heard through the demonstration referring to the vote as simply, “the rat.” (Photo by Kit Kolbegger.)


By Kit Kolbegger

Between 86 and 98 per cent of striking faculty at York University voted to reject an offer from York’s administration.

Voting began on Friday and ended Monday morning. Results were announced early Monday afternoon.

Many members of CUPE 3903, the union for the striking faculty, heard the results while preparing to march to Queen’s Park from the Ministry of Labour as part of a planned demonstration.

Adam Shachhuber, a York University teaching assistant who was at the march, said he wasn’t surprised when the preliminary numbers came in.

“There’s a sense that we’re getting closer to a resolution, and it’s going to be a resolution that we want,” he said. “Now the employer has basically no choice but to come back and bargain, which is what we wanted the whole time.”

Labour law allows an employer to put an offer in front of individual employees for a vote rather than the union bargaining team. However, it can only do so once during the course of the strike.

JP Hornick was the chair of the bargaining team for college faculty during the province-wide college strike last fall. She said she sees similarities in the way the strikes are being handled.

“That kind of stone-walling, that, ‘You better take this, it’s the best deal we’ll give you,’… they’re forcing us out on strike and expecting to break everyone,” she said. “What it’s doing is exactly the opposite.”

The college strike ended after a similar forced ratification vote, with similar results. 86 per cent of college faculty voted to reject the offer, mirroring two units in CUPE 3903.

In the third unit of CUPE 3903, only one person voted to accept York University’s offer. Two ballots are currently being contested.


(Photo by Kit Kolbegger.)
Demonstrators blocked traffic on University Avenue as they marched towards Queen’s Park from the Ministry of Labour. (Photo by Kit Kolbegger.)

In an online statement, York administration said that the faculty union’s propositions are “unreasonable.” The statement says that the administration has suggested a third-party mediator, but that the union hasn’t agreed to it.

It also says that York’s bargaining team is willing to come back to the table, but “to let that happen we still need CUPE 3903 to come to the table with realistic proposals.”

Key points that the union and the university administration do not agree on include raises for faculty, and whether or not graduate students should receive their funding as fellowships. The union also wants more teachers to be put on the tenure track every year.

Contract faculty and teaching assistants at York have been on strike since March 5.

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