Statement of Solidarity with CUPE 3903 Members after Picket Line Arrest

Statement of Solidarity with CUPE 3903 Members after Picket Line Arrest

CUPE 3903 unequivocally condemns the use of police intimidation and aggression to stifle peaceful well-established picket lines following the unjust arrest of one of our members on Monday, March 4th. This was at a picket line that has been used to communicate and educate during labour actions for the last 23 years. The Executive of CUPE 3903 strongly denounces this arrest and is appalled by the reports of excessive aggression and force used against our members. 

We denounce any police intimidation of peaceful picketers engaging in a legal strike, which often disproportionately impacts already marginalized community members. We realize that this experience has not been limited to our picket lines. To quote PSAC National President Chris Aylward regarding their own experience, “These heavy-handed, excessive and unnecessary police tactics are an attack on workers meant to silence their voices and weaken their bargaining power”. We need to question who and what purposes were served by this aggressive police escalation one week into our strike.

There needs to be accountability for the way in which workers and students are being treated during this legal strike. Workers deserve dignity and respect in their fight for a better York University for all. Striking is a right that is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Fundamentally, when striking workers are mistreated and intimidated, that right is not being respected.

To this date, we have not seen this respect from the administration, rather they have gone through extreme lengths to undermine the strike by all means, including forcing courses to continue to run despite academic integrity being compromised. Students deserve the high-quality education they signed up for and continuing classes at half-teaching capacity rather than bargaining is not the way to achieve this. 

We understand that members are rightfully shaken up by the events of March 4th. What happened was wrong. Though we strongly condemn the arrest, safety is our greatest priority, and we will continue to liaise with lawyers and law enforcement to ensure that our members are safe. We are also setting up peer support lines and are here to provide additional support to members during this time.

Our strike is for proposals that will address genuine concerns at York University and will strengthen the quality of education for all. Our picket lines are peaceful, well-established, and community-oriented. On our picket lines, you will find both graduate and undergraduate students, faculty members, service workers, staff, and many other vital and cherished contributors to the York University community. We will continue to stand together to fight for better working and learning conditions for us all.