CUPE files unfair labour practices complaint against York University

The union representing around 3,000 striking York University contract faculty has filed an unfair labour practices complaint against the school.

York says CUPE's complaint is 'without merit,' as contract faculty strike now in its 3rd week

CUPE 3903 says York University has violated three sections of the Labour Relations Act. The university says CUPE's complaint is without merit. (CBC)

The union representing around 3,000 striking York University contract faculty has filed an unfair labour practices complaint against the school — a complaint the school says is "without merit."

On Wednesday, CUPE 3903 posted a statement to its website saying "York is not acting in good faith by misrepresenting and impersonating the union in the current negotiations."

Bargaining had resumed Tuesday with the help of a mediator to end a walkout that began March 5 over the key issues of wages and job security.

But talks broke down after the union said the university's bargaining team "issued an ultimatum" and refused requests to continue negotiations. The university issued its own statement stating the union "had nothing new to offer" and there is "no path forward to a settlement."

Union says York guilty of 3 violations

In its statement Wednesday, the union alleges the school violated three sections of the Labour Relations Act.

The first violation, according to CUPE 3903, is that York "deliberately mischaracterized its position" when it came to job security offers to contract faculty.

"The administration has been claiming that what they're offering ... are not concessions," Julian Arend, vice-president of CUPE 3903, told CBC Toronto.

Second, the union says York "maliciously and falsely" characterized some union offers "as improper or 'illegal' in an effort to unfairly damage the union's public reputation."

The final charge has to do with the website domain cupe3903.com. The union said the university administration, or someone acting on their behalf, "appropriated the domain" and "fraudulently redirected traffic … for the purposes of deceiving members of the public and members of the union."

Complaint 'without merit,' school says

On Thursday, the university responded with its own statement, saying the complaint is "without merit."

"The university is not seeking concessions," the statement reads. "If the union truly believes that the university position is a concession then we urge them to reconsider their position and accept our offer of interest arbitration. Interest arbitrators do not grant concessions."

York also says the union is "attempting to bargain for non-employees whom they do not represent."

"This is what we have told them is improper and in bad faith," the university said.

Finally, the school said "has not and does not register or control the domain name CUPE3903.com."

The university said earlier in the week that while a number of the contentious issues with the union were settled in the talks Tuesday, they remain far apart on wages and on the number of conversions of contract faculty to full-time positions and funding for graduate students.

York says it has told the union through the mediator that it is prepared to continue bargaining as soon as the union is "prepared to work within a framework for an achievable settlement."

CUPE says picket lines will remain up at all York University entrances and more than half the classroom instruction on campus will continue to be disrupted due to the strike.

With files from Desmond Brown