On January 24, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty introduced back-towork legislation that would end the eleven-week strike at York University. After repeated calls by Conservative leader John Tory for government intervention in the strike, the premier responded by setting an ultimatum for the union. When CUPE 3903, representing the contract teachers and teaching assistants at York, refused to concede, McGuinty retaliated by legislating an end to the strike.
In order to take effect immediately, the legislation would have required unanimous support of the Ontario Legislature. However, the NDP is backing CUPE 3903 and voting against it, thus delaying the return to classes for over 50,000 students. It almost looks like the university has taken the position, ‘we won’t bargain and then we’ll allow the McGuinty government to settle this. And that’s wrong,” Hampton said.
The premier ordered a special session of the legislature on Sunday to debate the back-to-work bill, but as of Sunday evening, the NDP had succeeded in preventing the legislation from passing. The CUPE 3903 bargaining team executive committee issued a joint statement which stated that we feel that it was inappropriate for the mediator to set us this impossible choice between binding arbitration and back-to-work legislation, with a 7:00 a.m. deadline.
We dropped our demands on wage increases in response to feedback from the membership at the January 21 General Membership Meeting. We withdrew over forty outstanding proposals. We continue to emphasize that minimum guarantees, job security, and child care funds are essential to our members, the statement explained. Because York offered a three-year deal with a two-year funding structure, with poor back-to-work protocol, we were unable to accept their offer.