After intensive bargaining over the last few weeks progress had been made at the table. However, instead of remaining committed to reaching a fair settlement with the union, the university has opted to appeal to Chris Stockwell, the Minister of Labour, for a forced ratification vote.
This move has interrupted some promising progress, and will likely prolong the strike. If negotiations had continued the union is confident a settlement could have been reached in a matter of days, allowing classes to resume on January 8, 2001.
“We are offering the university one last chance before the holidays to get back to the table so we can get back to work on January 8, 2001,” says Rob Heynen, member of the CUPE 3903 bargaining team.
“Our members will not accept rollbacks. Any forced vote will only prolong this already record-breaking strike,” Heynen added.
Yesterday, the unions desire to resume talks was communicated to the ministry-appointed mediator who has been working with both sides since the strike began.
Stockwell himself has acknowledged that most forced ratification votes are rejected by union members. The decision by York administrators to force a vote, rather than bargain, is clearly a risky move. The York administration has already wasted significant resources in prolonging an unnecessary strike that has damaged the reputation of our university, inconveniencing employees and students in the process.
The union is gravely concerned that a forced ratification vote will permanently damage the relationship between the administration and its contract faculty, graduate assistants and teaching assistants.
CUPE Local 3903 represents over 2,100 graduate assistants, contract faculty and teaching assistants at York University. The union has been forced out on legal strike for almost eight weeks.
Joel Harden, CUPE 3903 Media Relations,
Michelle Lowry, CUPE 3903 Media Relations,