Avoid chaos by negotiating a fair deal, urges union

A homemade sign reading "Undergrads against exploitation of academic workers"

A homemade sign reading “Undergrads against exploitation of academic workers”

This post originally appeared as a media release on Canada Newswire and may be viewed here.

TORONTOMarch 16, 2015 /CNW/ – The best way to avoid chaos on campus is not to open classes before the strike ends, but to negotiate a fair deal, according to striking education workers at York University. Represented by Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3903), about 2,600 teaching assistants, graduate assistants and research assistants have been on strike since March 3.

York University announced last week the resumption of some classes, and will decide in a Senate meeting today whether to resume all of them. The York University Faculty Association (YUFA), which represents full-time tenured professors at York, has called on the Senate to refrain from opening classes before a settlement has been reached. Echoing their professors’ demands, about 5,000 undergraduate students have signed a petition, pledging their refusal to cross picket lines should classes resume.

“We need York to come to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair deal,” says Faiz Ahmed, chair of CUPE 3903. “Opening classes before reaching a settlement will create chaos and confusion among students, who should not be pressured to cross picket lines. It also runs the risk of prolonging the strike unnecessarily, by taking a business-as-usual approach.”

The outstanding issues for the union are funding levels for graduate and research assistants, employment equity language for LGBT members, and tuition indexation.

“Our members, especially international students, need protection from rising tuition costs,” says Ahmed. “Hiking fees to make up for inadequate public funding for universities is simply not acceptable. We need accessible, high quality education, not just for current students, but for future students, too.”

CUPE 3903 remains committed to finding a negotiated settlement and reiterates its call for the university to come back to the bargaining table. The union’s aim is to get a fair deal for its members, end the strike, and get students back in the classroom as soon as possible.

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