WATCH: University students get 'Yorked' for the second time in 3 years
WATCH: The head of the union local that represents striking York U. contract faculty expects students will be sympathetic to striking TA’s because they know what it means to be ‘Yorked.’ pic.twitter.com/U3exIh5ce5— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) March 5, 2018
Even the union local leader admits that letdowns and meltdowns happen so frequently for students at York University that there's a name for it in lecture theatres and hallways:
That's what more than 50,000 students who attend York face this week as the union representing almost 4,000 teaching assistants and contract faculty goes on strike.
They walked off the job on Monday, after negotiations on a new collective agreement broke down late last week.
Picket lines are expected to go up some time on Tuesday.
CUPE local 9303 chairperson Devin Lefebvre says the financial and mental hardship of being 'Yorked' happens because the school has a habit of "systemically failing to answer very simple questions and provide you with services that should be necessary."
Lefebvre rejects the suggestion that it has anything to do with his union going on strike twice in the last 3 years.
He places the blame for labour disruptions that have left and could leave some students in the lurch on the university's administration.
"I think students understand that our working conditions are our working conditions," says Lefebvre.
He adds the employer has, "stuck to their concessions" and that negotiators haven't moved from positions, "that they knew our members would find unacceptable."
The union is calling for measures like improved job security for contract workers, 'stable and predictable' funding for graduate assistants, and 'equity and accessibility in the workplace.'
York University claims the union's contract proposals would represent an increase on costs of almost 60 percent.
When asked about the union's estimate of how much money would be needed for those asks, CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn admitted that those details weren't immediately available.
"The reality of this is that the money that is there at York is there to ensure good quality education," Hahn says.
"We know the quality of education suffers when the workers who are delivering that education are treated in a way that is unfair."
Hahn argues that York has never argued that it cannot afford the union's demands.
WATCH: Fred Hahn of CUPE says he’s not sure how much the union’s contract proposals might cost but believes York U. is ‘trying to make things worse’ for contract workers. pic.twitter.com/zSWOksf735
— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) March 5, 2018
"I think that what they're saying is that they're simply unwilling to maintain a standard and in fact what they're trying to do is make things worse when it comes to precarity in post-secondary education."
While York University officials report that most classes are going ahead as normal, some students have expressed concerns that a prolonged strike will cause headaches when it comes to completing their education.
York University president Rhonda L. Lenton said in a written statement on Monday that the administration will do everything within its power to 'limit the impacts' of the labour disruption and keep classes running as scheduled.