Strike action looming at York University with teaching assistants set to walk out

A student wearing a face mask walks at York University in Toronto, Canada, on Oct. 20, 2020. Zou Zheng/Xinhua via ZUMA Press

A Toronto university is bracing for thousands of staff to walk out in a strike on Monday as last-minute talks continue.

The union representing roughly 3,000 contract instructors, teaching assistants and graduate assistants at York University confirmed Friday it was preparing for a walkout.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said its members would set up picket lines on Monday morning if a deal can’t be reached with the university over the weekend.

“We’re struggling to make ends meet,” Erin McIntosh, a PhD student and CUPE 3903 spokesperson said.

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

York University’s deputy spokesperson said following the CUPE 3903 vote Friday afternoon, the university and the union met as planned for collective bargaining negotiations, however an agreement was not reached.

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“Negotiations between the university and the union may continue throughout the weekend and into next week with the agreement of both parties,” they told Global News.

The spokesperson added that 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 spokesperson said.

The union cited a 2018 strike, provincial wage restraint legislation and affordability as key issues behind the looming strike.

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