Some York University staff to begin strike action on Monday, but school will remain open

Four categories of workers at York University are set to embark on strike action starting Monday after negotiations between their bargaining agent and the university’s management became deadlocked.

Classes that can continue will do so, university management said on Saturday

Some unionized staff at York University have voted to go on strike Monday but the university says it will remain open. (CBC)

Four categories of workers at York University are set to embark on strike action beginning on Monday after negotiations between their bargaining agent and the school's management became deadlocked.

Last Friday, contract faculty, teaching assistants, graduate assistants and research assistants — who are represented by CUPE 3903 — followed through on a recommendation from their bargaining agent to vote against the university's last offer.

York University issued a statement on Saturday with some highlights of its latest offer.

The university said it includes improved benefits, stronger equity language, pay increases, more teaching opportunities, improved job security, as well as arbitration for the toughest issues.

It listed increased health benefits, vacation pay, professional development funds and childcare funds under the increased benefits category.

The university is offering wage increases in each of the three years of the collective agreement of 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 per cent respectively; a minimum of eight full-time faculty positions in each of the next three years, with two of those as conversions to tenure stream faculty and six of those as special renewable contracts (SRC).

Also on the table is an increase in the total number of long service teaching appointments, from 60 to 75.

York University was forced to suspend classes in March 2015 after its teaching assistants and contract faculty voted against a new labour agreement. (Linda Ward/CBC)

When bargaining began six months ago, CUPE presented York University with a list of 110 demands. The university's management has said, if realized, the list would mean a 57 per cent increase in cost over the current contract.

The university says it has not received a counter to its latest offer made on Mar. 1.

CUPE 3903 members passed a motion to allow for bargaining over the weekend, however, this was rejected by the university which reiterated it had not received a counter-offer from the bargaining agent.

"The news from the bargaining team is that there will be no bargaining this weekend. Shame on #YorkU for not even taking the opportunity to try to reach a resolution #onpoli #pse #yorkustrike," CUPE 3903 posted on Twitter on Saturday.

University will remain open

But York said its priority is to minimize the impact of the strike on students, and to that end, the university will remain open and classes that can continue will do so. 

"Remedies will be provided for students to complete their year if their classes are cancelled or they cannot or do not want to cross a picket line; libraries, student services, athletic facilities, restaurants and other food services, and administration offices will continue to be available to students," the statement reads.

"The University is committed to taking all possible steps to enable students to complete their program requirements in a timely fashion and is aware of the needs and concerns of students intending to graduate this spring. Academic accommodations will be made as needed," it continued.

CUPE 3903 represents around 3,000 employees at York University, who previously went to the picket lines in March 2015.