York University calls for union to agree to binding arbitration to end strike

As the strike involving contract faculty at York University drags on into its sixth week, university president Rhonda Lenton is asking the union to agree to binding arbitration to end the dispute “as quickly as possible.”

School year could be saved if classes resume by April 23, said York University president

York University is asking the union to accept binding arbitration to end a 6-week long strike by contract faculty. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

As a strike involving contract faculty at York University drags into its sixth week, the school's president Rhonda Lenton is asking the union to agree to binding arbitration to end the dispute "as quickly as possible."

In an open letter posted online, Lenton said a third-party solution would "potentially save all the summer terms.

"We need to do everything that we can to get all of the students back," she said Wednesday on CBC's Metro Morning, adding that "we could save the year" if classes started again by April 23.

Arbitration would 'set a bad example,' union says

But CUPE local 3903, the union representing over 3,700 striking members, including teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants, says the university has been pushing for this outcome "since day one of negotiations."

"Binding arbitration is an option of last resort," said Lina Nasr, a doctoral student at York University and a member of CUPE 3903's bargaining team.

"In the six weeks of the strike they have only met with us once. They need to make an effort to actually negotiate."

According to Nasr, agreeing to binding arbitration would "set a bad example."

Earlier this week, the union rejected the school's latest offer in a forced ratification vote.

The walkout began on March 5. Striking contract faculty say that job security and inadequate wages are among their key issues.

The president of York University, Rhonda Lenton, has called on the union to agree to binding arbitration, but the union says no. We speak to both sides today as the strike at York stretches towards its sixth week. 9:20

With files from Metro Morning