York and U of T strikesThree thousand contract instructors, teaching assistants and graduate assistants at York University will be on strike Monday morning unless their employer comes back to the table with a real plan to address the affordability crisis.

“We’re struggling to make ends meet. Basic needs like housing and food have skyrocketed in price, but the wages for people who do the majority of teaching at York have been falling further and further behind,” said Erin McIntosh, PhD student and CUPE 3903 spokesperson. “The employer is still making an offer that is far below the rising cost of living. Who can afford to work at York anymore?”

Academic workers were on strike in 2018 and were legislated back to work by the Ford government without a resolution to the issues that led to the strike.

The Ford government then passed the unconstitutional Bill 124 that restricted wages to 1% per year at a time of record inflation. That law was subsequently struck down by the courts because it was unconstitutional, but York has yet to address the imbalance it created.

“For workers who are also students, it’s making York unaffordable. It’s putting a university education out of the reach of people. This is a question about equity and access,” said McIntosh.

The affordability issues are also affecting the quality of education, she said. As academic workers are forced to live further and further from campus and take on second or third jobs to make ends meet, that means less time to work with students.

Picket lines are expected to go up on Monday, and the workers will be joined by faculty, other campus workers, students and labour leaders at 11:00 AM for a rally outside York University subway station.

“We don’t want to be in this position, but things are at a breaking point. The university needs to get serious about bargaining in a way that addresses the issues of affordability and equity,” said McIntosh.