CUPE 3903 Statement on Food Service Workers Strike

A sign on a picket line reads "Solidarity for Jobs and Justice".

Food service workers at York University represented by Unite Here Local 75 will be out on strike as of 8 am tomorrow, February 16. CUPE 3903 stands in unconditional solidarity with the struggles of these workers. The following lays out a) the reasons for the strike, and b) your rights and responsibilities as a member of CUPE 3903.

Why a strike is necessary

A strike is never a decision made lightly. Food service workers have been in bargaining for months. The breakdown in bargaining is due to the refusal by their employer to concede to absurdly basic demands:

  • A decent wage
  • An end to harassment, anti-black racism, and islamophobia in the workplace
  • Paid sick leave
  • Improved benefits
  • A safe working environment
  • The right to organize

These are rights that are owed to every worker. The labour movement cannot pick and choose which of us are worthy of basic respect. This is why the struggle of food service workers has been supported by the Cross-Campus Alliance, which has representatives from most the unions on campus.

While York is attempting to distance itself from these negotiations, saying that they are not involved in this process because Aramark is a sub-contractor, this is a blatant lie. As the institution that provides the funds to Aramark, they could easily end this strike now by increasing the funding attached to their contract with Aramark. York chooses not to; we must call on them to support food service workers and not allow the university to escape responsibility.

When an employer is so intransigent that basic dignity and respect has no place on the bargaining table, withdrawing their labour is the last and most powerful tool at the disposal of workers. We stand in solidarity with food service workers represented by Unite Here Local 75. Strike to win!

What this strike means for the York community

CUPE 3903’s collective agreements (CAs) do not protect us in the event that a member refuses to cross a picket line. Those members who are students are also covered by the Senate Policy on Academic Implications of Disruptions or Cessations of University Business Due to Labour Disputes or Other Causes, but only in their roles as students. There is no protection for a member who opts to cancel classes or tutorials due to the strike.

If you feel obligated to cross the picket lines, please show solidarity in other ways:

  • Join the picket lines when you are on campus
  • Boycott all Aramark locations; see a full list here
  • Talk to your students and colleagues about why this struggle is important and encourage them to also boycott Aramark
  • Organize solidarity pickets in your departments or hiring units
  • Organize indoor pickets at Aramark locations to discourage others from purchasing products from scab labour
  • Show your support on social media
  • Go to to send a message to President Shoukri.

We will be providing regular updates on this strike as it progresses. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, check our website regularly, and be sure to subscribe to the CUPE 3903 Newsletter.