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York University workers to walk off job Monday if no agreement reached over weekend | CBC News

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Academic workers at York University have voted to strike on Monday if the school doesn’t return to the table with a “real plan to address the affordability crisis.”

In a news release on Friday, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3903, which represents the workers, said about 3,000 contract instructors, teaching assistants and graduate assistants at York will stage a strike Monday if an agreement is not reached with their employer.

“We’re struggling to make ends meet. Basic needs like housing and food have skyrocketed in price, but the wages for people who do the majority of teaching at York have been falling further and further behind,” CUPE 3903 spokesperson and PhD student Erin McIntosh said in the release.

“The employer is still making an offer that is far below the rising cost of living. Who can afford to work at York anymore?”

Picket lines are expected to go up on Monday, with a rally set for the same morning outside of York University subway station. The union did not provide details of the contract negotiations. 

The move comes just over five years after the 2018 strike at the university, when the Ford government stepped in and passed legislation to end the months-long labour dispute.

At the time, the province also passed the unconstitutional Bill 124 that restricted wages to one per cent per year. 

“That law was subsequently struck down by the courts because it was unconstitutional, but York has yet to address the imbalance it created,” the release said.

McIntosh said the issue comes down to equity and access. Workers who are students are also finding the school to be unaffordable, which is affecting the quality of education, she said.

“We don’t want to be in this position, but things are at a breaking point. The university needs to get serious about bargaining in a way that addresses the issues of affordability and equity,” McIntosh said.

In a statement on Friday, York University said it met with the union for planned bargaining talks on Friday afternoon. It said negotiations between the university and union may continue on the weekend and into next week with the agreement of both parties.

“The university is ensuring that students’ learning needs remain the top priority. Contingency plans for all other aspects of university operations are in place and will be activated as required,” the university said.

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