Apr 09 2009

Another Way Must be Tried

Category: News,Post-strike Discussion (2009)Bob Hanke @ 8:59 am
After Nine Months, a Labour Pact at York U.


Strike-weary York University can look forward to at least two years of labour peace if teaching assistants and contract faculty approve a tentative deal reached this week.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903, which shut down the sprawling campus this winter for three months in a strike largely over the growing use of part-time instructors, has reached a tentative three-year settlement with York with the help of a mediator appointed two months ago by Queen’s Park.

The union representing 3,400 contract professors, teaching assistants and graduate assistants announced yesterday on its website it was “pleased” to have reached a settlement with York after nine months of negotiations.

The contract would apply until September 2011.

The Ontario government legislated the union back to work in February after the longest university strike in English-speaking Canada, and handed the dispute to a mediator.

But for students facing another two months of school because of the extended school year, news of the agreement seemed anti-climactic.

“I hope both sides are happy, but now that I’m back in class, they can take as long as they want to get a deal,” said kinesiology student Catherine Divaris, who helped launch a website during the 85-day strike urging an end to the disruption.

“Because of the strike I’m in midterms in April instead of finals,” said the fourth-year student, who has applied to law schools across the province, including York’s Osgoode Hall.

“The one good thing is, a three-year deal means there is no danger of another strike until at least 2011.”


Another “good thing” for York students and contract faculty who feel access to education is a democratic right and a public good, and not just another commodified service and a private value, would be to start mobilizing to  strike against tuition hikes.  Last week, the L’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante organized strikes with several universities and CEGEPS,  drawing students into the streets with calls for free education. To read more, click here.


Commentary of Last Month: Lessons of the York University Strike by Chris Bailey, March 2, 2009.

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