York university student and campus unions threw their full support behind the 3,400 striking faculty, teaching and graduate assistants of CUPE 3903 at a solidarity rally and joint news conference held this afternoon.
A group of undergraduate students kicked off the rally this morning with a demonstration at the university’s main gate, and eventually joined the strikers on the picket lines.
By noon, the picket lines had grown to ten times their normal size as faculty, clerical staff, security guards and other workers on campus came down to lend support.
“There was a strong presence from faculty today. It was lovely to see them out, they were very spirited,” said Punam Khosla, a teaching assistant with CUPE 3903.
At the press conference, strikers heard words of encouragement from the York Federation of Students, representing undergraduate students; York University Staff Association, representing support and clerical staff; CUPE 1356, representing workers in trades, maintenance, caretaking, housing, grounds, vehicles and security; York University Faculty Association, the York University Graduate Student Association, and CUPE 1281, which represents small non-profit and social justice workers.
The workers of CUPE 3903 have been on strike since last Thursday, after a series of failed bargaining attempts with the university administration.
The university is using a lot of figures to mislead the public. But the administration’s latest offer refers only to proposed wage levels. When wages and benefits are factored together and set against inflation, the proposal is actually a 1.4% reduction. And despite the 28% increase in CUPE 3903 membership, the university has refused to match this with the $600,000 needed to bring benefits and support funds back to 2005 levels.