President Lenton: Settle with CUPE 3903!

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To President Rhonda Lenton: 

We, the undersigned York University students and faculty, together with staff, parents, alumni, and members of the public, urge you to settle now with CUPE 3903.

We are deeply disappointed that it took your administration until week three of the strike to return to the bargaining table with the union representing teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and contract faculty. You have promised to return to bargaining, but we know that this is not enough. We believe that, if the administration bargains in good faith and with no preconditions, and proceeds with the seriousness and urgency demanded by the situation, there will be a swift end to the strike.

Our paramount concern is for students and the deterioration of their learning conditions resulting from your unwillingness to bring a meaningful deal to the bargaining table. We strongly encourage the York University administration to bargain without a demand for concessions, and with a determination to settle fairly, instead of expending valuable resources on public relations, while confusing students by attempting to coax them into crossing picket lines.

Public education is a right, not a privilege. Many York students balance jobs with long working hours and no job security with their studies, and they often live below the poverty line. Students therefore support their TAs and contractually employed professors who seek to obtain income above the poverty line. They support working conditions that ensure access to a quality education, a fair prospect of job security, and equity and justice in the workplace.

On March 5, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and contract faculty brought a serious proposal to the bargaining table, which we believe can be the basis for constructive negotiations. Meaningfully addressing these proposals would have minimal cost in relation to the University's contingency fund and $37 million budget surplus, and the enormous fiscal and social cost of continuing the strike.

Your unwillingness to settle at the bargaining table has brought harm to the York University community and beyond. It has created disrespectful and dangerous conditions for students and faculty on the picket lines and divided their communities. By disregarding the University Senate and collegial governance, your administration has accelerated the damage to teaching and learning conditions at York and exacerbated pressures on staff. Faculty and students are confused and frustrated with this violation of trust. Students deserve better than the uncertainty, mental distress, and financial hardship caused by this disruption.

President Lenton: Bring a fair deal to the bargaining table! It is time for this to end.