Thousands of York University workers prepared to strike Monday

York University campus view. York University/Facebook

Thousands of staff at York University are prepared to go on strike Monday morning. Agreement between the university and the union that represents the school’s academic workers has not been reached.

The union, which represents roughly 3,000 contract instructors, teaching assistants and graduate assistants at York University confirmed Friday it was preparing to walk out.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) previously said its members would set up picket lines on Monday morning if a deal wasn’t reached with the university over the weekend. As of Sunday afternoon, an agreement still hadn’t been made.

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

Erin McIntosh, a PhD student and CUPE 3903 spokesperson, told Global News reaching an agreement Sunday evening “seems highly unlikely.”

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“The employer did not table a single proposal or response for the entirety of the five hours of bargaining on Friday afternoon. After no movement from the employer on Friday, they have not signlled any interest in taking action to avoid the strike on Monday,” said McIntosh.

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She said the union’s bargaining team remains open to meeting “at any moment” if the university comes prepared with proposals. However, she added that there’s “no sign that that will happen before midnight tonight.”

York’s deputy spokesperson said in a statement provided to Global News that the school hoped it could achieve a negotiated collective agreement with CUPE 3903 ahead of the planned strike date of 12:01 am on Monday, Feb. 26.

“With that goal in mind, we offered two consecutive proposals on Feb. 7 and 21, which addressed crucial items, including increase in rates of pay. Thus far, none of these proposals have been responded to at the bargaining table,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said 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 and we will continue to work toward a swift, equitable and sustainable agreement with CUPE 3903,” the spokesperson said.

According to McIntosh, if the strike moves forward, the first day will consist of a rally.

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“Strikes are challenging for everyone involved, knowing this, we will be starting the strike in the spirit of community,” McIntosh said.

The rally is set to take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside of the York University subway station.

— With files from Global News’ Isaac Callan

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