TORONTO, ON – With the support and assistance of working people from across Ontario, striking education workers today have shut down access into York University.

Beginning at 7:30 this morning, labour leaders and rank-and-file workers from a wide range of public and private sector unions answered a call to action by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) to bolster picket lines staffed by Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3903).

“Today is a Day of Action for CUPE 3903 at York and the support and solidarity we are receiving from the OFL and its affiliates is both humbling and overwhelming,” said CUPE 3903 Chairperson Devin Lefebvre.

“For nearly ten weeks, our members have been calling on York to live up to its responsibilities, sit down with our bargaining team and negotiate a fair contract that all parties can live with. If that message wasn’t getting through before, I’m sure it’s being heard loudly and clearly today.”

Earlier in the week, OFL President Chris Buckley called on the Federation’s affiliated unions and Labour Councils to take part in today’s Day of Action. In response, dozens of unions sent members to York today to bolster picket lines around the university. They were joined by Buckley, and other senior OFL leaders, as well as Toronto and York Region Labour Council President John Cartwright and CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick.

“The workers of CUPE 3903 are being mistreated by York University. Shamefully, York has met with these workers for only 15 minutes during the nearly ten weeks they have been on strike,” said Buckley.

It’s long past time for the University to get to the bargaining table. The reputation of this university rests on the teaching and research these workers do, and it’s time they were offered a fair agreement,” he added.

Units 1, 2 and 3 of CUPE 3903, representing about 3,000 teaching assistants, contract instructors and graduate assistants, went on strike March 5 to secure a fair contract. Since then the University has only met once with the Union, and is still demanding concessions.

“Rather than bargain, York has chosen to pursue a scorched earth policy that will cause untold damage to students and to the University’s own reputation,” said Lefebvre.

For the sake of students and the University, this needs to end. That’s why it’s so important to have the support from the OFL and all their affiliates today,” he added.

Buckley called on York University to stop stonewalling and spending vast sums of money on union-busting lawyers and get back to the bargaining table.

“The Labour movement supports these workers and that’s why we’re joining them today on the picket lines,” Buckley.


For more information, please contact:

Julian Arend, CUPE 3903 Spokesperson, 437-288-6165

Megan Perry, Director of Communications, Ontario Federation of Labour, 416-894-3456

Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641