Campus safety workers at York University, north of Toronto, held a press conference on Friday, June 14 at Calumet Circle on campus. Members of the union spoke alongside CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and Ontario Federation of Labour President Laura Walton. The press conference was part of a longer public outreach event and information picket.

CUPE Local 1356-02 represents 73 safety workers on campus employed by York University. They walk students home as part of goSAFE and monitor the CCTV system on campus. The union has been in negotiations with the university for ten months, and recently received a “no board” report, putting them in a legal strike or lockout position at 12:01 a.m. on June 24.

“We just want a fair deal,” said CUPE 1356 President Frank D’Agostino. “Our members help keep the public safe, but the university doesn’t want to pay us a living wage or give us paid sick days. The administration gets huge raises and bonuses. How is that fair?”

Campus safety workers at York University are also students at the school, and as such are paying increased tuition fees directly to their employer. This coupled with a steep increase in the cost of living in Toronto means their current wages are far from sufficient. Despite the crucial safety role that these workers perform, York University says they cannot provide them with a living wage.

Workers with CUPE 1356-02 voted 85% in favour of a strike earlier this year. The local’s collective agreement expired in August of 2021.