Motion of non-confidence by the LA&PS Faculty Council Reply

April 30, 2018

LA&PS Faculty Council expresses non-confidence in the senior administration of York University led by President Rhonda Lenton and in the Board of Governors led by Rick Waugh.


With the strike in its eight week, the Administration of York University, led by President Rhonda Lenton, continues to refuse to bargain with CUPE 3903 to resolve outstanding issues. Although it welcomed the appointment of Commissioner William Kaplan, the Administration still publicly refuses to negotiate. The positions of Administration remain deeply contradictory. On the one hand, the Administration has stated that CUPE 3903’s positions “continue to be well outside the range of anything the university can ever agree to.” On the other hand, the Administration calls for CUPE 3903 “to allow an independent third party to decide what’s fair and impose a settlement that binds both sides.” The Administration claims that the proposals are outside what they can ever agree to, but supports a process of binding arbitration that might lead to those very same outcomes. This strategy has nothing to do with negotiating a contract and everything to do with bypassing negotiations altogether.

Because of its refusal to bargain, the winter semester is in chaos. Now the Administration has announced the imminent cancellation of summer semesters. This announcement once again usurps the authority of Senate and Senate Executive to make decisions on class suspension due to a labour disruption. It demonstrates a “scorched earth” approach to contract negotiations placing the business-driven interests of the Board of Governors over the academic reputation of the institution and the education, mental health and future of our students. The Senate Executive Committee has managed remediation in full deference to this administrative approach. It has created chaos and dysfunction within York. It has intensified the anxiety and stress of students, faculty and staff, and undermined the academic integrity of courses and York’s standing with students, families and the public.

The April 2 letter from Rick Waugh, Chair of the Board of Governors, to Lesley Beagrie, Chair of Senate, is a frontal attack on collegial governance at York. It states that “oversight and accountability for the operations of the University rest with the Board of Governors.” This misleading statement fails to acknowledge the exception clause from the York Act: “Except, as to such matters by this Act specifically assigned to the Senate” (article 10). “The Senate is responsible for the academic policy of the University” (article 12). The Board’s usurpation of Senate’s authority for academic governance during a labour disruption violates the legal framework that established York University and the Board’s fiduciary responsibility for “collegial self-governance” (York Mission Statement).

Given these considerations, LA&PS Faculty Council can no longer express confidence in the leadership of President Rhonda Lenton or Chair of the Board of Governors Rick Waugh.

Statement by CUPE 3903 Member, Devin Clancy at Senate Meeting, April 26, 2018 1

April 26, 2018

I’m Devin Clancy and in case anyone in this administration has forgotten, I am a member of this community. After being forced to picket outside for 8 weeks, in the cold, the wind, and freezing rain, you start to wonder if anyone at the top making six figures actually cares about those of us that do the work of this university. So to be clear, I am a student, teaching assistant, and CUPE 3903’s representative in the senate.

Two weeks ago on April 12 the senate passed this motion:

“Senate urges both sides in the labour disruption to immediately return to the bargaining table and take the necessary steps to settle the dispute as soon as possible”

As we all saw when entering the meeting today, CUPE 3903’s democratically elected bargaining team is sitting outside these doors as we speak, waiting for York to come to the table.

Where is Kathryn McPherson?

Where is Rob Lawson? If you know, please let our health and safety committee know, we’ve been waiting for his response to our Vari Hall inspection since December.

Where is Noura Shaw?

Where is Barry Miller?

And where is York’s union busting lawyer Simon Mortimer?

Lyndon Martin, Senator Martin, why are you not outside right now sitting at that table? Why are you not calling everyone on your team to join you?

Senator Martin, you have been directed by the most senior collegial decision making body of this university to “immediately return to the bargaining table” and “settle the dispute as soon as possible.”

What gives you the right to disregard your colleges’ direction? What gives you the right to refuse the direction of the senate? What empowers you to abdicate your responsibility to bargain?

Have you, like 800 graduate assistants, also been “liberated from work obligation” by the Board of Governors and the corrupt executive of the senate?

For two weeks now, York and CUPE have been involved in a process of mediation and inquiry. Our union’s bargaining team met with commissioner Kaplan, revised our proposals, and clearly showed a desire to negotiate a deal to end this strike.

Yet, even before the mediation period ended, York emailed the entire community to brazenly state the university would never negotiate. And it said this despite being expressly directed by the senate to do so. This is, without a doubt, a crisis of collegial governance, but it is also a crisis of the values and principles of York University.

How can anyone in this administration honestly believe that York’s actions in this strike represent a commitment to “social justice”?

What hollow notion of justice do you pretend to hold Rhonda? Is your justice always brought to us by TD bank? Does it rely on investing in arms and occupation? Does your justice depend on investing in TransCanada pipelines?

The only social justice at this university comes from students and workers on the ground who stand up against corporate interests and fight for the generations of students and workers to come.

For our local, social justice is not an exercise in branding, but a lived reality. It’s embedded in our union’s commitment to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, to Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty, to supporting Indigenous struggles for self-determination.

And it is embedded in our union’s commitment to direct democratic representation of its members in the collective bargaining process.

Yet, in York’s submission to the Industrial Inquiry, our model of democratic organizing and open bargaining—which is an active practice of social justice—has been directly attacked. And Simon Mortimer used our members’ written academic work in order to attack it.

This is an assault on our members’ academic freedom. Our own critical analysis of York University is being used against us in a legal process to break our union.

What new era of bargaining does the Lenton regime want to normalize here? Clearly it involves as little bargaining as possible, and as much security, fake websites, and bogus PR that money can buy.

This administration does not care about students. This administration does not care about academic integrity or academic freedom. This administration does not care about its own reputation. And it certainly doesn’t care about its workers.

All this “social justice” university cares about is breaking CUPE 3903, by any means necessary. Even if that means destroying the summer semester and losing millions of dollars in the hope that next provincial government will introduce unconstitutional back-to-work legislation in June.

Rhonda Lenton, “social justice” president, are you really hoping for the next government to fulfill your wishes?

That’s a direct question, but I don’t expect a truthful answer. And I don’t think anyone does anymore. York University’s “social justice” president lacks integrity. And your sorry excuse of leadership is falling apart.

A growing list of student groups, departments, and faculties are passing motions of non-confidence in the senior administration, President Rhonda Lenton and in the Board of Governors led by Rick Waugh.

Rhonda, our own department of sociology has expressed its loss of confidence in you.

So I ask: President Lenton, will you stop destroying everything this university stands for and resign immediately?

Statement by Ricardo Grinspun, at Senate Meeting, April 26, 2018 Reply

April 26, 2018

President Lenton, I rise today to ask that either you commit to making a meaningfully improved offer to CUPE 3903 in order to end the strike immediately or, failing that, offer your resignation, since you will have failed the academic mandate of this institution. Your letting down of the community of faculty, staff, students and their families will be beyond repair, unless we settle this strike now. If you are not able to take the necessary steps, it is time for you to step down and allow us to move on with the fundamental work of our university: To advance knowledge and scholarly work through a vibrant community of students and faculty – working together – for the betterment of our minds, lives and society.

The managerial and leadership approach that defines your administration is unsustainable and detrimental to the common good that characterizes a healthy university. Your uncompromising and unnecessarily aggressive approach displayed throughout the CUPE 3903 strike is profoundly inimical to the university as a public trust and the values espoused in our mission statement, such as collegial governance and academic freedom. The hardball approach to both governance and labour relations contradicts York’s publicly stated espousal of social justice, and the social justice-engaged research that defines so much of our university. Unfortunately, your actions confirm the concerns expressed by the 900 full time faculty who responded to the YUFA poll in November 2016, of whom only 11% supported your candidacy to be President of York.

The university is paying a very heavy price for your appointment. Your intransigent actions during the labour dispute, and the complete disregard of the impact on York’s academic reputation, speak clear. The community feels shocked and helpless in the face of your categorical refusal to bargain, your reckless brinkmanship, regardless of the cost for students, academic standing and our reputation. While pursuing a scorched earth approach to labour negotiations in the hope of crippling the union representing graduate students and contract faculty at York, you have hurt the lives of tens of thousands of students and brought disarray to our university.

Because of your refusal to bargain and your disdain for York’s students, the winter semester is threatened, and you have eroded academic integrity beyond recognition by proposed accommodations on a broad scale. Now your administration has announced the imminent cancellation of summer semesters. This announcement once again usurps the authority of Senate and Senate Executive to make decisions on class suspension due to a labour disruption. The Senate Executive Committee, on which you sit, has managed remediation in full deference to this administrative approach. It has created chaos and dysfunction within York, intensified the anxiety and stress of students, faculty and staff, and undermined the faith of the public in our university.

No amount of money poured into public relations or private security can obscure this reality. You now wear this reality.

President Lenton, speaking on behalf of thousands of faculty, staff and students, please know your actions so far do not have our confidence. Unless you move to settle this strike, we call for your resignation.

Statement from the Department of Cinema and Media Arts, AMPD Reply

April 25, 2018

To: Mr. William Kaplan, Investigator, Ontario Ministry of Labour Industrial Inquiry into the CUPE 3903 Strike at York University.

We, the faculty members of the Department of Cinema and Media Arts, join our colleagues from Glendon, the Department of English and many other colleagues across the university, in expressing our outrage at York administration’s continued refusal to negotiate with CUPE 3903 in good faith. We condemn the administration’s strategy and, with our colleagues, present this vote of non-confidence in President Rhonda Lenton, her senior administrators, and the Board of Governors of York University.

Rationale: For eight weeks, the administration has played a game of hardball, insisting the two sides in the current labour dispute are too far apart to even consider negotiating. This is a misguided strategy as evidenced by the resounding 85% of the union membership of CUPE 3903 that voted ‘no’ in the forced ratification vote, April 9, 2018.

We believe collegial governance is what distinguishes universities as institutions committed to a public good. This core aspect of the university’s mission, however, has been steadily eroded over the past decades as decision making has become centralized and, in particular, Senate authority has been challenged and breached both prior to and during the current labour disruption. Spending on administrator salaries has skyrocketed. Please see Mathew Kurtz’s illuminating article in Excalibur, “The rising cost of high-income administrators at York.”

We believe that much of the erosion of collegial governance stems from a Board of Governors, chaired by Rick Waugh, that is increasingly unrepresentative, undemocratic and whose orientation is blatantly anti-union. Their vision of a corporatized university is not the vision we share. The refusal to negotiate, which we believe is informed by an explicit desire to break the union, is undermining the integrity of our academic offerings, demoralizing faculty, punishing students – including students who, as TAs and GAs, are walking the picket line – and is ruining the reputation of York University.




York students do deserve better – That’s why instructors are on strike Reply

April 30, 2018

By Dana Phillips

It’s the refrain we hear over and over again: “those poor students, caught in the middle of persistent labour disruptions at York university.”  What follows is often, as in Martin Regg Cohn’s recent Toronto Star column, a rebuke of striking union workers for being so darn unreasonable, under the thin guise of balanced journalism.  Sure, goes the argument, teaching staff have legitimate concerns, and precarious work is a problem. But why does CUPE local 3903 insist on being such a troublemaker?

I would be the first to argue that students do deserve better, and I’m confident that my fellow CUPE members, by and large, feel the same way. Many of us are students ourselves; we are also experiencing disruptions to our programs of study, in addition to significant losses in income, and ongoing economic uncertainty. Nearly all of us work closely with students whom we care about and want to see succeed. This is no small part of the reason that we continue to stand up against an administration that is in the business of lining its own coffers at the expense of quality higher education.

Like all unions, CUPE 3903 has its own internal politics, and these have in times past been admittedly problematic (as has York’s own governance). But to suggest that the union’s grievances therefore have no merit is simply fallacious. CUPE 3903 is not an outlier, as Regg Cohn suggests—it is a sector leader.  The hard won rights of CUPE 3903 union members have set a precedent for precarious academic workers across the country at a time when the rapid corporatization of universities should be what has us all alarmed and outraged. This is why arbitration is not a good option for CUPE 3903; you can’t lead the way through a decision-making process that bends towards the status quo.

One of the biggest points of dispute in this strike relates to the job security of Unit 2 contract faculty. York argues that providing opportunities for experienced contract instructors to transition into tenure-track positions (in lieu of the usual open search process, but with the same high bar for granting tenure) threatens standards of teaching excellence for students. And yet, York relies on contract instructors in short-term, low-paid positions to teach more than a third of its classes (more than half if you count teaching assistants). If York is truly concerned about teaching excellence, one wonders why the administration is currently fighting to have more courses taught by full-time graduate students from Unit 1, who are generally less qualified than the Unit 2 contract instructors they would be replacing.  There is nothing good for students about having “professors” who are overworked, underpaid, and unsure of where their next paycheck is coming from.

CUPE 3903’s proposals for Units 1 and 3, meanwhile, focus on ensuring accessible and equitable access to graduate education for future students—i.e. current undergraduates.  While CUPE looks towards the future, however, York and much of the media remain fixated on the strike’s most immediate impacts, thereby losing sight of the deeper issues threatening public education for years to come.

One of the problems with opinions like those of Regg Cohn is that they assume that striking workers are primarily to blame for what is happening to students at York. This is nothing new; it comes up all the time on the picket lines.  Perhaps it should come as no surprise that it is easiest to blame those who are out in the cold day after day, physically obstructing the way to classes, degrees—business as usual.  It seems as though these are the people that chose to mess everything up for everybody.

What, though, about the choice of York administrators to refuse to come to the bargaining table for weeks on end, while CUPE remains ready and willing to negotiate? What about the economic and educational systems that place highly educated and skilled people—the people we hope our students will become—in the position of struggling to make ends meet? The ability of these causes to remain invisible is what gives them their power and privilege.

The university and the public are rightfully concerned about the well-being of York’s undergraduate students at this difficult time. Unfortunately, they seem much less concerned about the well-being of those who provide the bulk of those students’ education, and who, in many ways, reflect those students’ own precarious future.

Motion of non-confidence by the Glendon Faculty Council Reply

April 20, 2018


Glendon Faculty Council expresses non-confidence in the senior administration of York University led by President Rhonda Lenton and in the Board of Governors led by Rick Waugh


With the strike in its sixth week, York’s administration continues to refuse to bargain with CUPE 3903 to resolve outstanding issues in a timely fashion. The approach of the Senate Executive Committee to remediation while the strike is ongoing has created confusion and chaos within York’s community, intensifying the anxiety and stress of students, faculty and staff, as well as undermining the academic integrity of courses and therefore York’s reputation.

York’s President and Board of Governors, with the support of Senate Executive, have undermined the historic interpretation and application of the York Act, thereby undermining collegial governance at York. Given these considerations, Glendon Faculty Council can no longer express confidence in the leadership of President Rhonda Lenton or in the Chair of the Board of Governors Rick Waugh.

Open letter to President Lenton by YUFA Executive Committee Reply

April 20, 2018

Dear President Lenton,

In your recent message to the York community (“Two days of mediation produce no settlement”), you claim that the CUPE conversion program remains a “fundamental issue” in the current labour dispute. You state that the University’s proposal of two conversion appointments (which falls below CUPE’s previous contract and the historical average) enjoys the “public support of many full-time faculty in the York University Faculty Association.” You add that “Academics support University’s position on conversions.”

It is incumbent upon your office to provide evidence for such statements about the opinions of our members. This letter did not disclose that your claim of “public support” refers to a petition you received from 152 members of YUFA who have organized a special group to discuss issues such as conversion appointments and the CUPE strike. Everyone is aware, including yourself, that among the more than 1,500 members of YUFA there are diverse views on the conversion program. The program has nonetheless been approved in every YUFA collective agreement voted upon by our members in the last thirty years.

It is disingenuous in this context that you failed to consult with YUFA before claiming that academics support the bargaining position of the York administration in this strike. By misrepresenting the views of YUFA members, your statement appears calculated to drive a wedge between YUFA members and our colleagues in CUPE 3903 upon their return to work. We ask therefore that you issue a correction, making it clear that you are in receipt of the signed petition of approximately 10% of our membership, but that you are not able to make a reliable claim about the opinion of YUFA members on the issue of the conversion program in the current negotiations.

Executive Committee
York University Faculty Association

Statement from CUPE 3903 Member, Devin Clancy, at Senate Meeting Reply

April 12, 2018

I’m Devin Clancy, a student, teaching assistant, and senate representative for CUPE 3903.

First, I’d just like to express my gratitude to the Senate Executive for booking a room that can accommodate the public. It’s too bad that it took a student reclamation of the senate chambers in order for these meetings to even be open and accessible, but I’m nonetheless glad I don’t have to fight off a headlock from security to be here today.

I have a question for President Lenton and the executive, but it requires a little bit of context so bear with me.

While Rhonda has been expensing luxury headphones and first class accommodations, this institution has been under attack, an attack that is painted by the executive as “business as usual.”

But what is “business as usual” for York University?

Recent history suggests that it means cutting 800 GA jobs without warning, and unilaterally tearing $5,400 of TA funding out of our protected Collective Agreement.

It means offering an incoming MA student a unionized job with health benefits, only to deny it once they’ve accepted. It means this student is forced to drop out because of uncovered health costs, and it means that FGS now demands this student payback their fellowship.

It means denying students’ summer pay.

It means empowering a Bargaining Team who doesn’t understand that 2 conversions is less than 8.

It means a final offer that is full of concessions.

It means systematically failing to meet with our union’s health and safety committee and an accessibility office at Glendon that isn’t wheelchair accessible.

It means taking four weeks to respond to complaints of asbestos in our workplace.

It means failing to notify the community of bomb threats and hate graffiti.

It means inviting a dozen toronto police onto campus to violently detain someone using rubber bullets.

It means kicking someone out of Ross in the dead of night in winter for trying to sleep in a sheltered space.

It means a library roof that has leaked for years, a mouse and cockroach problem in Vari Hall, and an unpaid water bill.

It means an administration that spends hundreds of thousands on anything but bargaining in good faith with CUPE 3903.

It means meeting with the crisis management PR firm Navigator to mislead the public and tarnish CUPE 3903’s reputation.

It means purchasing radio ads that misrepresent our union’s bargaining positions and it means buying the back page of Excalibur for months.

It means charging to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, a website currently under investigation by the ministry of labour for redirecting web traffic to York’s own labour webpage.

It means spending thousands of dollars on private security to surveil and intimidate striking workers, and students that have reclaimed the senate. So much so, that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association reached out to President Lenton, imploring her to end these tactics immediately.

It means trying to ban metal gates and firebarrels on the picket lines, instruments that are essential to ensuring the safety of our members as they exercise their legal right to strike.

It means reinterpreting the York Act to disempower collegial governing bodies, and it means transforming the Senate Executive into a hollow mouthpiece for an unrepresentative corporate Board of Governors.

It means hiring Hicks Morley, a union busting law firm that gives lectures to employers on how to avoid liability in cases of critical injury or death of workers.

It means forcing workers out in the cold on strike for 40 days. And it means only coming back to the bargaining table for 1 day, only to walk away and force a bogus ratification vote.

And it means providing the ministry of labour with fake employee emails and incomplete membership rolls.

To be honest, I didn’t even know a president could be so corrupt and incompetent.

But let me tell you, workers are fed up with a profit driven corporation that uses “academic integrity” as a rhetorical shield while deepening academic precarity and exploitation.

And we’re fed up with a University that appropriates the language of social justice as a marketing tool, only to entrench unjust working conditions on 60% of the educational workers at York.

This union destroyed your bad offer, and voted 85% to reject the administration’s attempt to impose neoliberal austerity measures on our membership.

And now the Liberal government has abandoned your desire to impose back-to-work legislation.

You’ve lost Rhonda.

You’ve lost the strike, you’ve lost the confidence of the community, and you’ve lost the Senate, literally.

Don’t be foolish enough to lose the summer semester too.

So I ask: President Lenton, when will York University return to the bargaining table?

Letter to our Students from Colleagues at the Faculty of Education Reply

April 9, 2018

On April 5th, 2018, colleagues from the Faculty of Education, York University, met to discuss our ongoing concern with the Administration’s troubling tactics during the labour dispute. These tactics reverberate through all levels of collegial governance and democratic process, and affect every aspect of our work. Having entered into its fourth week, the Administration embarked on the dangerous wager of forcing ratification and, in the meantime, has done little to improve the climate of negotiation between itself, the university community, and CUPE 3903.

Within this context, we want to express our support and solidarity with our students and colleagues of CUPE 3903. We do so as a commitment to our responsibility as faculty for the well-being of the University, and against the unfair and precarious situations of employment at the University. As professors, we feel it is our duty to protect the University’s educational principles and to support our students and colleagues by adhering to 1) collegial governance, 2) principles of academic integrity, and 3) our responsibility as educators to our students. We reaffirm our role and responsibility as faculty because these three aspects have been under threat during this dispute.

As scholars, professors, and instructors of education, we are uniquely positioned to gage the damage that recent events pose for academic integrity and scholarly innovation that are the hallmarks of York University’s highly regarded reputation. Our worry is that this dispute is not merely about providing fair conditions for workers, but increasingly about the Administration’s re-alignment of faculty governance. It seems to us that the University is being run less and less by professors and students, who are invested in educational and academic concerns, and more by people in management and commerce, guided by the Board of Governors, with little or no experience in or sense of responsibility for academic and educational matters. Such a re-alignment betrays the longstanding right to have educational and academic autonomy from the Board of Governors for which faculty and others have previously fought. This managerial and economic trend will not serve faculty and students well.

As professors of a Faculty of Education who have long-standing experience and engagement, sharing with multiple stakeholders, in public schools, communities, and educational sectors, we roundly reject the Administration’s rush to undermine faculty governance and educational authority. Our position aligns with those expressed in numerous universities and by school teachers worldwide, some of whom are protesting in the streets today, the devastatingly failed project to make education profitable. Rendering education a commercial project, and putting financial concerns before pedagogical ones, privileges the few while denigrating the promise education holds for so many. Our students, young people, and children stand to lose the most from the reckless actions of the Administrators and the Board of Governors. These managerial actions, lacking foresight, have caused so many teachers, educators, and scholars everywhere to take a decisive stand for the idea and ideals of education, academic integrity, and free enquiry underlying the right to public education in just and democratic societies.

We urge the Administration to respect collegial processes and return to the bargaining table, in good faith and fair play, to lessen the turmoil, confusion, and conflict we are all experiencing. Labour disputes are important events that help us to think about ourselves and the society in which we want to live; they also take the temperature of our foundational institutions and the core values driving them. A strike gives us pause to reflect on the state of our academic organization and how we belong and commit to it. For many of us at York University, this dispute exposes the deliberate collapsing of collegial structures into managerialism, and how our talents, which defy economy, are exploited for their serviceability to the bottom-line. A strike also reminds us (because we all tend to forget) that nothing in life is given. Our lives are all precarious (in different ways) and, in a democratic society, we have a right to speak of our needs and a responsibility to take care of each other. Our Administration needs to remember — indeed, we all need to remember — that when you give people a living, dignifying wage, and treat them like people with minds and dreams and the promise of a shared and sustainable present and future, rather than seeing them as economic “units” and income generators, we provide the fundamental conditions for education to be possible.

In solidarity with teachers and students everywhere,

Steve Alsop,
Sarah Barrett
Warren Crichlow
Roopa Desai Trilokekar
Mario DiPaolantonio
Nombuso Dlamini
Lisa Farley
Jen Jenson
Joy Mannette
Aparna Mishra Tarc
Naomi Norquay
Gillian Parekh
Tina Rapke
Theresa Shanahan
Kurt Thumlert
Laura Wiseman

VOTE NO! YUGSA Recommends Its CUPE Members Reject York’s Latest Offer Reply

March 30, 2018

CUPE 3903 members have entered a new phase of the strike: this week, York University requested that the Ministry of Labour supervise a forced vote by the CUPE 3903 membership on York’s latest offer. Through their request, the York administration continues to reject the process of bargaining constructively with CUPE 3903.

We agree with the CUPE 3903 Bargaining Team’s recommendation that the membership vote to REJECT this offer. The BT has explained in more detail why all units should reject this offer. Overall, York’s offer is the worst deal the membership will see. If members reject it, York may be forced to table a better deal out of fear of risking the income from the summer semester. The BT stresses to members that it is better to negotiate a deal through collective bargaining. In addition, York’s offer contains no back-to-work protocol, meaning that there is absolutely no guarantee that members will get paid for the work they do to wrap up the term after the strike is over. The only way to guarantee this back pay is to settle this dispute at the bargaining table, where in the wake of previous strikes CUPE has been successful in ensuring its members receive between 85 – 100% of their pay upon returning to work.

YUGSA is particularly disturbed that the York administration stated in their supervised vote request: “Our graduate students strongly support our Fellowship model.” As a body representing graduate students, we have heard overwhelmingly from our members that they want GAs to be restored. York’s cut to GAs means that hundreds of students do not have access to CUPE 3903’s benefits package, nor the health care plan and support funds that they offer, including their Extended Health Benefits Fund, Trans Fund, Ways and Means Fund, Child Care Fund, Sexual Assault Survivor Support Fund, etc.. It also means that the work previously done by GAs has been downloaded onto unpaid internships for undergraduate students, or, to YUFA members now robbed of their valuable GAs.

These are some of the reasons why CUPE 3903 members ought to reject York’s current offer. What York has done to GAs they are trying now to do to TAs by using the fellowship model of funding to detach funding language from the collective agreement, thereby loosening the union’s ability to bargain over TA funding. This loss will have serious consequences for the York graduate community.

YUGSA Condemns Violence at the Senate Chamber

YUGSA condemns York University’s response to students and workers outside and inside of Senate Chamber on Thursday, March 22, 2018. Seeing the widespread desire for students to enter the Chamber, the York administration had two viable options, which were both ignored:

1) They could have followed the Rules of Senate, which state (in Article I. Principles, 2.) that, “Senate is open to the University community unless it duly resolves to move into closed session.”

2) If the Senate Chamber was filled beyond fire code capacity, they could have resolved to move the meeting to a larger space to accommodate students, which they ought to do going forward.

Instead of pursuing these options, York put members of CUPE 3903, various undergraduate student groups, and members of CUPE 1356 into direct conflict, instructing security guards to keep students out of the chamber. The result was horrific. Senator Devin Clancy was put into a headlock by a security guard upon attempting to enter the chamber; the YUGSA senator was on the receiving end of aggressive remarks and even at one point, physical force by the secretary of senate for protesting the senate executive’s actions and for insistence on remaining at the senate chamber entrance to bear witness to how students and members were being treated. We also heard reports that members of 1356 were injured in the process. There was no security challenge to justify such actions. The students and supporters who were in the hallway, some of them members of the Senate, presented no physical danger to anyone. This highly securitized approach is not welcoming and accommodating — fundamentally, it is not what a university should be about.

Such actions revealed York’s administration goal: for the sake of political expediency, and to forge the strike in their interest, they are willing to put any and all students and workers at risk. They want to pit the members of community against each other: unions against unions, brothers and sisters against brothers and sisters, students against workers, etc. It is only by uniting that we can win our differing but interrelated demands for fair wages and working conditions, collegial governance, the abolition of tuition fees, and more.

How to Engage in Solidarity Actions with CUPE 3903

YUGSA sees three ways that the York community can engage in solidarity actions with CUPE 3903:

1) Sign the petition now to President Lenton and York administration to bargain a fair deal! (CLICK HERE)

2) Join the Cross-Campus Alliance (CCA), comprised of labour and student unions on campus, for their weekly solidarity visit to the picket lines. The next visit will be on Wednesday, April 4 from 12:00 – 2:00 pm on Main Gate (Keele St. and York Blvd.) in conjunction with the Fight for $15 and Fairness’ Day of Action for Equal Pay for Equal Work (RSVP HERE).

3) If you’re interested in organizing further solidarity actions, feel free to connect with us (e-mail, or get in touch with undergraduate students who have been occupying the Senate Chamber since March 22, which has quickly become a 24/7 organizing space around the demands that York negotiate a fair deal with CUPE 3903. The occupation shows how some students are increasingly frustrated by the York administration’s actions, particularly in disrupting the democratic and collegial governance processes at the Senate. These students are demanding that York be held accountable for their incompetence by immediately refunding the semester’s tuition for all students. York’s move to hire private security to constantly surveil picketers has also been applied to the occupiers, who are being intimidated by over-securitization on campus. You can get in touch with them via, or by going to their Facebook page (click here).