Classes at York University were cancelled today but not because of the weather. The union representing contract teachers and teaching assistants is on strike. It comes just one day after the same staff at the University of Toronto walked off the job.
York is largely a commuter school, and with the strike closing campus, many arrived just to turn around. Beyond the travel inconvenience, fourth year biology student Liaba Khan is worried that an extended strike could put her graduation on hold “it’s going to create a lot of problems, not just for me like for all undergraduates.”
This comes one day after 6 000 staff walked off the job at U of T, although classes continue there. In total, the strikes will affect 100 000 students at Canada’s two largest universities.
Faiz Ahmed; CUPE 3903 union chair says that the union agrees with the university that this is a funding issue and more needs to be done at Queens Park, but he says the university could make a bigger commitment with the money they do have.
Negotiations had been ongoing since September with the university making its final offer on Sunday night. Union members voted more than 71% in favour of a strike on Monday and despite the lost class time, there are students who are willing to sacrifice.
Union leaders say that they are ready to go back to the table any time, but they will remain out front of the main entrance to campus every day until there is a negotiated settlement. As for local schools, we checked with McMaster and Brock, both have contracts in place until 2016, though the contract for ESL teachers at Brock is set to expire on March 17th of this year.