While the parties await a report from an Industrial Inquiry Commission announced Friday, the union representing striking academic workers at York University called on the employer to resume negotiations to resolve the six-week long labour dispute.
“While we will fully cooperate with the Commissioner, we are also acutely aware that any further delay could have a profound impact on the academic year for students, to academic integrity and to York’s reputation,” said Devin Lefebvre, Chairperson of CUPE 3903.
“Time is of the essence. We need to move quickly. The only obstacle to bargaining has been and remains York’s refusal to do so,” he added.
Lefebvre made the remarks following the announcement by the Provincial Government today that the Ministry of Labour had appointed William Kaplan to serve as an Industrial Inquiry Commissioner to “facilitate a resolution to this dispute.”
Mr. Kaplan is expected to meet with both parties to the dispute on Sunday and is expected to deliver a report to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn in two to three weeks.
Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, said the Government and the University, “can, and should do more.”
“For six weeks, the University has, with the exception of a single day, refused every single request by CUPE 3903 to sit down and negotiate through the outstanding issues. That is unconscionable. At this stage, the Government is well within its rights to tell York they need to agree to a resumption in bargaining, without preconditions,” said Hahn.
Units 1, 2 and 3 of CUPE 3903, representing teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants, began strike action March 5 in support of their efforts to secure a fair collective agreement that, among other things reduces the level of precarious employment in the post-secondary education sector and protects access to quality post-secondary education.
Lefebvre reiterated CUPE 3903’s availability to resume bargaining quickly, noting that, “the clearest and most effective path to a resolution remains through negotiations.”
Hahn added, “Time and again, York’s refusal to bargain has unnecessarily prolonged this dispute. Instead of waiting for Commissioner Kaplan’s report, or wasting more time calling for the union to agree to arbitration, York should follow the lead of Carleton University and agree to resume negotiations, without delay and without preconditions.”