Striking contract workers vote no to latest York University offer, union says

The union representing contract workers at York University has voted to reject the school's latest offer.

About 75% of members participated in the 'forced ratification vote,' CUPE says

Ontario introduced and passed a legislation to refer any outstanding issues to binding mediation-arbitration. (Chris Langenzarde/CBC)

Contract workers at York University have voted to reject the school's latest offer, their union has announced

On Monday, CUPE Local 3903 said 72 per cent of its members participated in the "forced ratification vote," a turnout that the union deemed "excellent."

"It was the same offer that we rejected five weeks ago. They just offered the same one, with really no improvements in the deal," Suj Sriskandarajah, treasurer of the local told CBC Toronto.

Sriskandarajah added that the number of those who voted against the deal was higher than it was the first time it was offered.

"The employer has wasted not only weeks of our time, but also — and most importantly – weeks of students' semester in order to avoid bargaining," the union said in a statement.

York University contract staff and teaching assistants walked off the job on March 5 in frustration over the university's wages and benefits offer nearly a month ago, leading to both sides holding different positions about how to break the deadlock.

The rejected deal means teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants at the school remain on strike. 

In a statement Monday, York University said it was "deeply disappointed" by the result, saying the union "continues to maintain positions and proposals that are unreasonable, including wage increases of 3.5 per cent a year, proposals to limit academic excellence and over 30 other demands."

The two most hotly-contested issues "on which we remain far apart," says the school, are: the number of tenure positions given to union members without an open search, and a proposal for graduate students to maintain funding while doing non-academic work.

The school is now reviewing its next steps, which could include speaking to the government about options to end the strike.