As a strike by their academic workers continues into its eighth week, York University has wasted yet another opportunity to negotiate a resolution to a dispute that threatens to further damage thousands of students’ current and summer academic terms.
For the past week, York and Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3903) have held a series of meetings with Commissioner Bill Kaplan, who was appointed last week by Provincial Labour Minister Kevin Flynn to meet the parties. Mr. Kaplan’s mandate was to attempt to assist the parties in reaching a settlement, and if a settlement was not achievable, report back to the Minister – with recommendations – within three weeks.
In spite of the urgency to save the current and summer academic term for more than 50,000 students, and despite significant efforts by CUPE 3903 to bridge the divide between the parties, York failed to use the time wisely and refused to bargain.
“We moved significantly on issues of job security for precariously employed contract instructors, in the spirit of compromise and cooperation with the Commission” said CUPE 3903 Chairperson Devin Lefebvre. “It is beyond dispiriting to see that York continues to refuse to engage with these important issues, even when mandated to do so by the provincial government.”
York University explicitly refused to engage in negotiation on both Tuesday, April 17 and Friday, April 20, despite setting a deadline of April 30 in order to save the summer semester.
“We are baffled to hear that York considers that we have walked away from bargaining. Our position remains that we are ready and willing to talk at any juncture in order to reach a settlement. If there has been a misunderstanding, we invite York to return to the table this weekend. If there has not, then we take strong issue with York’s claims, which in no way reflect the reality of what transpired last week,” said Lefebvre.
The parties are scheduled to make submissions to Commissioner Kaplan on Monday. Kaplan is expected to deliver his report to the Minister of Labour within the next two weeks.