2008–09 York University strike

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A CUPE 3903 picketer is arrested during a protest against back to work legislation on January 26th, 2009. It was one of the final sizable protests before the end of the strike.

The 2008–09 York University strike was a strike by CUPE Local 3903, the union representing contract professors, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants at York University.[1] The strike began on November 6, 2008 and concluded on January 29, 2009 when the provincial parliament legislated the union back to work. The strike lasted for 85 days, making it the longest faculty strike in Canadian University history.[2] 5000 students, including the Schulich School of Business and the Osgoode Hall Law School, were able to return to school a week prior to the end of the strike due to a deal struck by the union and the university. Whether it be returning to school a week in advance or amongst the vast majority, students and professors all return with strong resentment.[3] Much of the criticism focused on York University President Mamdouh Shoukri's poor handling of the dispute.[4]

The Union went on strike due to a variety of institutional grievances, including job security for contract professors, elimination of the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct, creation of whistleblower protection, and fund indexation. On January 20, 2009, CUPE 3903 defeated a forced ratification vote that would have ended the strike. On January 24, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty announced a rare Sunday recall of the provincial legislature in order to pass back-to-work legislation mandating an immediate end to the strike.[5] On January 29, the York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act was passed in the provincial parliament on a count of 42–8 ending the strike.

Past labour disruptions at York University[edit]

York University has a history of faculty/TA strikes. In 1997, there was a faculty strike by the York University Faculty Association that lasted seven weeks. At the time, this was the second longest strike in Canadian University history.[6] Key issues in the strike included retirement, funding, and institutional governance. In 2001, TAs and contract faculty went on strike for 11 weeks, when the university broke its own record.[7] The central issue in the 2001 disruption were the administration's proposed attempts to remove tuition indexation language.