York University academic workers reach tentative deal in 7-week strike

By Patricia D'Cunha

A tentative deal has been reached between the union representing instructors, teaching assistants and graduate assistants and York University.

In an update posted on its website on Monday, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3903 says the university delivered its final offer to the union Sunday afternoon.

Around 3,000 academic workers, who take on more than 50 per cent of the university’s classes, walked off the job on Feb. 26 after negotiations broke down with the university.

The union says the offer “contained some meaningful improvements,” including an additional 0.25 per cent in the second year of the retroactive wage period, an increase to Graduate Financial Assistance, and a guarantee of at least 90 per cent remediation pay for completing contracts for the winter 2024 term.

During the height of the strike, the union claimed that the university had yet to address the imbalance created by Bill 124.

The wage restraint law capped public worker salaries at one per cent a year over three years. The province has since repealed the bill after it was ruled unconstitutional.

“Although we didn’t achieve everything we wanted to in this round of bargaining, we have obtained some notable gains that make this deal — best we could get under the circumstances — worth endorsing,” the union said.

“Our final wage gains over the six years of the Bill 124 period (2020–23) and the renewal collective agreement (2023–26) are well below both what we were seeking and what our members deserve. But at 14.8 per cent (or 17.8 per cent, inclusive of the 1 per cent per year already earned during the Bill 124 period), they are sector leading and that itself is an achievement.”

The union says the ratification vote will be held this week at a membership meeting.

Earlier this month, students affected by the strike demanded tuition refunds. A petition signed by nearly 5,000 students said the walkout had a major impact on them.

The last time workers at York University went on strike was in 2018. It lasted almost five months before they were legislated back to work.

With files from Shauna Hunt of CityNews

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