Potential strike by CUPE 3903

CUPE 3903 will be in a legal strike position as soon as February 22, 2024 should negotiations with the Employer fail to reach a new collective agreement. CUPE 3903 represents approximately 3,700 contract faculty, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and research assistants at York University.

The purpose of this document is to answer frequently asked questions about how a possible labour disruption would affect YUFA members.

1. Will classes continue if there is a labour disruption?

In the 2015 strike by CUPE 3903, the Senate Executive Committee decided to suspend all courses for the initial period of the strike (with a limited number of exceptions). During the strike of 2018, classes were not suspended. Senate Executive has yet to make any announcement about the current situation. Only Senate and/or Senate Executive has the authority to decide whether the University will or will not be adopting a University-wide policy of suspending courses. This authority of Senate is determined by both the Senate disruptions policy and the York University Act, which bestows upon Senate the power to make academic policy (of which the disruptions policy is a part).

2. Can I be asked to take on additional teaching or other responsibilities during a strike?

The workload provisions of the Collective Agreement will continue to be in force, so faculty members should not experience an increase in workload due to a strike. Faculty members are responsible for their own courses, not for those of their colleagues; and YUFA members cannot be required to take up the work of another bargaining unit. Faculty members are also not responsible for carrying out the work previously assigned to Teaching Assistants or Marker/Graders in their courses. As in previous labour disruptions, YUFA will seek to protect members from extra work arising from remediation after the strike (or seek to ensure members are appropriately compensated).

3. What are my rights as a faculty member during a strike?

Should a Dean or Principal tell you to alter your course and grading requirements as a result of a labour disruption, you are likely within your rights to refuse such a request on grounds of Academic Freedom (Article 10 of the YUFA Collective Agreement) and previous Senate guidance about the primacy of the instructor’s role in deciding how to safeguard the academic integrity of their courses. The Senate policy states that academic integrity will be protected, and academic standards shall not be diluted. YUFA will defend members subjected to discipline for exercising their collective agreement rights.

4. Do I have to cross the picket line if a strike is called?

YUFA is not on strike, and the Association cannot advise members to withdraw their labour. However, YUFA will vigorously defend any member subject to discipline for refusing to cross a picket line for legitimate health and safety concerns or being unable to walk from a transit drop-off point to come to campus; carrying out professional responsibilities in off-campus locations or using alternatives that preserve academic integrity of their courses; or refusing to do the work of a striking CUPE 3903 member (or any other employee who does not perform their work because of a strike).

5. What has YUFA been doing in the face of a potential labour disruption?

YUFA has been urging the Employer to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement in its negotiations with CUPE 3903 to avoid a strike.

6. My students have been asking me about a possible strike. What should I tell them?

We recommend that faculty members inform students of their rights that are clearly spelled out in the Senate policy on labour disruptions. The thrust of the policy is that students cannot be academically or otherwise penalized if they are unwilling or unable to participate in courses owing to the labour disruption. You can also inform your students that, should academic activities be suspended, all classes, labs, and tutorials will be cancelled. They should watch for announcements. After a strike has ended, the Senate will determine protocols and remediation procedures for the return of students to the classroom and the completion of work.