Following six months of fruitless bargaining, the York University Faculty Association (YUFA) has set a strike deadline of March 24, 2022. CUPE 3903 extends our unfaltering solidarity to our YUFA colleagues and condemns the university administration’s intransigence. The administration seems dedicated to fostering poor labour relations across the university, including in ongoing negotiations with the York University Staff Association (YUSA). Broad, cross-campus solidarity is needed to protect the York community from these continued attacks on fairness, equity, and collegiality, which affect us all.
YUFA’s bargaining position is reasonable, achievable, and aimed at improving York University. Yet they have faced resistance to improvements to workload which would benefit both faculty and students. During the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty have been working tirelessly to adapt courses from in-person to remote to hybrid with very little support, motivated by a desire to provide the best possible education for their students.
Additionally, the employer is resisting implementing meaningful recruitment and retention policies for BIPOC faculty. This is especially hypocritical given their stated commitments to diversity, including the Action Plan on Black Inclusion.
The employer also wants to eliminate the Dispute Resolution Committee, which acts as a collegial alternative to arbitration in dispute resolution. The reasons given do not stand up to scrutiny, but this move echoes the employer’s continued attacks on collegial governance, exemplified by the fact that power has been siphoned away from the Senate, and the Board of Governors does not follow its own representation guidelines. Student unions have faced similar attacks, with the introduction of a new regulation which transfers power away from democratically elected student governments and into the hands of the administration.
These things matter, not only to the YUFA members they affect directly, but to the York community as a whole. Students deserve to see themselves represented in the classroom, by professors who are not overloaded with the burden of managing the pandemic and other crises with little support. The erosion of collegial governance is felt deeply by the community as the university orients itself more and more to a business model that does not care about the students, instructors, or staff that keep the university running.
It is no surprise, then, that the staff represented by YUSA are also facing severe concessions in their ongoing bargaining. While CUPE 3903 was able to reach a negotiated settlement this past summer, this was hard-fought, and we faced several of the same roadblocks, including a strong resistance to meaningful equity policies.
What is happening at York University? The university cannot function without its instructors, staff, and students, yet the administration cannot seem to respect its employees, or see students as anything but sources of income. We call on the York community to support YUFA. It is time that we show a united front against a bloated administration making decisions that negatively impact the well-being of the university, its students, or the workers that make its very existence possible.