The national president and national secretary-treasurer of Canada’s largest union joined York University academic workers and labour leaders from across the province for a picket line rally today. Members of CUPE 3903, including teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract instructors have been on strike since February 26.

The rally at the main entrance to York University included a teach-in by the Journal of Law and Social Policy and the Global Labour Research Centre and follows growing police interference with peaceful and well-established strike activities.

“We know you all want to be providing services to students at York, but sometimes you have to say, ‘Enough is enough!’” said Mark Hancock, CUPE’s national president. “Police are not supposed to be picking sides. Our key message to police here and everywhere is don’t interfere with our rights. There’s a storm coming. Workers are standing up and saying we need more; our families need more.”

Hundreds of academic workers, students and faculty at the rally are calling on the university to return to the table with a plan to address the affordability crisis, equity issues and quality of education.

“Our strike fund is healthy, and we will be out here until you get the collective agreement you deserve,” said Candace Rennick, CUPE’s national secretary-treasurer. “We’re here to send a message to the university and police. The only reason this university works is because you do. You’re struggling to make ends meet, and the time to end your exploitation is now!”

Other speakers at the rally included OPSEU President JP Hornick and CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. Participants included students, faculty, other university workers, leaders of CUPE Ontario and CUPE locals from across the province, and members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113.