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Education workers at York University challenge racism and emphasize pandemic security with strike mandate

TORONTO – ( BUSINESS WIRE ) – Education workers at York University have voted in favor of a strike mandate in response to the institution's unwillingness to address racism and bargaining table security.

Education workers comprising contract teachers, teacher assistants and graduate assistants are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903.

CUPE 3903 is fighting for better employment equity, job stability and a safe return to campus in the context of the pandemic, says Gizem Çakmak, a member of the CUPE 3903 bargaining team.

The union wants the university to address the lack of representation of groups seeking equity among hired teachers and prioritize hiring black and indigenous teachers, women of color, and people with disabilities.
"The faculty at York University do not reflect the diversity of the campus community despite their lofty rhetoric on equity and inclusion," said Cakmak. "This is an opportunity for them to live up to their ideals and address the constant lack of diversity and really commit to fighting racism."

CUPE 3903 is also concerned about the university's plan to offer up to 50 percent of in-person courses in the fall semester, without taking steps to ensure people's safety, including reducing class sizes. and the implementation of public health guidelines.

Union leadership is questioning the university administration's commitment to bargain in good faith as the institution continues to move toward a job disruption.

York University has been in a position to block union members since July 5, after it requested a No-Board report from the Ministry of Labor in June.

"At every step of this process, it has been York that has turned into a labor dispute, prompting members to support a strike mandate," said Vanessa Lehan, president of CUPE 3903. "Maintaining the safety of our members and students should be a shared priority, yet we are facing a lockout, rather than working together to find solutions. "

The parties return to the negotiating table on July 12. The last collective agreement expired on August 31, 2020.


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