The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is urging MPPs to support workers’ Charter rights and oppose Premier Ford’s plan to interfere in collective bargaining at York University.

On Tuesday, the new Conservative government released its “Top Legislative Priorities for Upcoming Sitting.” The first item on the list is to take away Charter protected rights from education workers at York University by tabling “back-to-work” legislation.

“Our working conditions are the learning conditions of undergraduate students. York has refused to seriously bargain with us from the beginning,” said Devin Lefebvre, Chairperson of CUPE 3903. “We too are graduate students, who are precariously employed by York University. Violating our Charter rights and forcibly ending our strike is the opposite of protecting students.”

CUPE 3903 has been in a legal strike since March 5 to defend good jobs, improve learning conditions for undergraduate students and promote equality of opportunity. The union is trying to:

  • Stop York from making cuts to funding for graduate students;
  • Reverse the cut of more than 800 Graduate Assistant jobs;
  • Establish better support for survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence.

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the right to meaningful collective bargaining and the right to strike are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The right to bargain and withdraw our labour are the most important rights workers have to ensure we are treated fairly.

“This strike is fundamentally about the quality of university education. These workers do 60 per cent of the teaching at York and most of them make below poverty wages. Many teach at multiple universities to make enough to live. They can’t be on campus when their students need help,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “Back-to-work legislation is what York has wanted from the beginning. They’ve basically refused to bargain and now Premier Ford is letting them off the hook when he should be telling them to get back to the table and actually bargain a fair deal.”