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York University resuming some classes on Wednesday

Nursing, engineering and other students will be back in classes at York University on Wednesday despite an ongoing strike by teaching and graduate assistants.

Agreement with 1 of CUPE's 3 bargaining units reopens doors for some students

CUPE Local 3903 split on Monday, with contract faculty voting to ratify a new agreement with the university while teaching and graduate assistants voted against the deal and remain on strike. (Linda Ward/CBC)

Nursing, engineering and other students will be back in classes at York University on Wednesday despite an ongoing strike by teaching and graduate assistants.

The university said late Tuesday classes will resume at five of its schools, following an agreement on a new contract by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3093 Unit 2, which represents contract faculty at York. 

Bargaining units 1 and 3, which represent teaching assistants, research assistants and graduate assistants, voted against the deal on Monday and remain on strike. 

York cancelled all classes when the strike started last week. 

But officials say starting Wednesday courses will again be offered at York's: 

  • Lassonde School of Engineering.
  • Schulich School of Business.
  • School of Nursing.
  • School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.
  • School of Human Resources Management in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.

A full list of the affected classes has been posted online.

York University president Mamdouh Shoukri said earlier in a statement he was "disappointed" that units 1 and 3 didn’t accept the offer. 

Lucas McCann, the president of York’s Graduate Students’ Association, said there’s a "mixed" mood on campus. Some students are frustrated and just want to finish their programs, but others are showing solidarity with those on strike.

McCann also said there’s some pressure within the membership itself to accept a deal to get back to work.

He said the next step for units 1 and 3 is to resume bargaining, though he admits it’s unlikely graduate assistants will get everything they want out of the negotiations.

Next steps

York University said it would be in touch with provincial mediators to discuss the next steps in the negotiations.

CUPE Local 3903 says Unit 1 voted 59 per cent against and Unit 3 voted 77 per cent to reject the agreement. CUPE reported that voter turnout represented 34 per cent of the 3,728 affected.

York is one of the largest universities in Canada, with 47,000 undergraduate students and another 6,000 graduate students. 

CUPE says about two-thirds of undergraduate courses at the universities are taught by non-tenured staff who are paid about $15,000 a year.

With files from The Canadian Press

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