Student & Community Members FAQs
Will there be a strike?
If the York University senior administration does not offer a fair settlement, a strike date is set for March 24, 2022. Classes will be affected if they are taught by a full-time Faculty member including tenured, tenure-track, contractually limited-term, or Special Renewable Contract faculty. A strike can also affect the availability of librarians and archivists. YUFA is unsure what plans the York University Administration will make for students in the event of the strike, but we will do everything we can to keep our students informed.
In previous labour actions and pandemic disruptions at York University, students have never lost an academic term. YUFA is unable to provide an answer on whether the winter 2022 term will be extended. The onus is on York University Administration to prevent further disruptions for students.
We do not want a strike at York University. We are working very hard to avoid one, but we need the support of students and York community members to send a strong message to York University administration to avert a strike.
What is York University Faculty Association bargaining for?
YUFA is bargaining to improve the working conditions of its members, including improved collegial governance, equity, workload and compensation.
Universities operate on a shared model of governance and this means YUFA members have say in academic policies affecting our teaching conditions and your academic and learning experience. Over the years, erosion of this shared governance model has put more decision-making power into the hands of senior administrators and managers instead of faculty and student representatives.
YUFA is bargaining to secure better language that would protect these rights to collegial decision-making. This is an important non-monetary demand. Faculty, librarians and archivists are experts in their field and know how best to deliver their teaching. Decisions affecting the classroom experience for students should be made by those who are teaching the courses.
YUFA is also bargaining for increased designated equity hires. Increasing the numbers of new Black, Indigenous, and racialized faculty, librarians, and archivists will better serve the diverse needs of York University student body.
Formally recognizing and supporting the service work, e.g. participation and providing expertise on various York committees, that BIPOC faculty perform to improve York University's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion agenda.
YUFA members need the York University senior administration to support them in providing the support their students need, but the administration will not make the investments necessary for teaching and research excellence. YUFA members need more time & resources to develop innovative & cutting edge curricula, provide one-on-one instruction, serve as mentors to students and pursue professional development opportunities that will benefit the next generation of university graduates.
Why should York students care about the YUFA negotiations?
YUFA’s goal is to improve the quality of education for everyone. We need your support to ensure that we are empowered to provide the best learning experience possible. The quality of students’ education is determined by a number of factors: class size; how much time faculty members have to develop and teach courses; how much time instructors have to grade your work and give you one-on-one instruction; what kind of resources are available to students and faculty; and whether your education environment is open, diverse and inclusive.
YUFA members are currently facing deteriorating working conditions: workloads; time for mentoring and supporting students; developing curricula; professional development, and greater difficulty in recruiting and retaining the best faculty, librarians and archivists.
These issues have a direct and significant impact on student learning conditions, and our ability to meaningfully engage with students and provide an exceptional learning environment.
Can York University afford to give YUFA members a better contract?
York has a surplus of $316.8 million at the end of the 2020-21 year, which could be used to support our faculty, librarians and archivists and strengthen the quality of education here at the University.
While there have been many cuts to the post-secondary sector over the last few years, the Ford government, through Bill 124 (the Protecting Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019) has imposed a 1% cap on monetary increases to Collective Agreements in Ontario. This legislation means that YUFA is limited in what we can ask for in relation to monetary issues. Many of the larger issues on the table right now are not monetary issues. They concern equity, collegial governance, timely and dignified accommodation processes for members with disabilities and care-giving responsibilities, and recognition of the extra workload, shouldered disproportionately by our equity-seeking members, under pandemic conditions.
Will students be protected from reprisal if they refuse to cross the picket line to attend classes?
Yes, students rights 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.
What happens to my remaining assignments?
If there is a strike, all assignment due dates will be suspended. At the end of the strike, the University Senate will create a “remediation plan” that will determine the rules for the end of term, including new dates for the term, the final examination period, final grades, petitions and appeals, graduation, and any other academic matter that arises as a result of the disruption of term. Historically, no student has ever lost a term because of a campus strike, no matter how long or short it is.
Do I have to complete all my assignments before the strike?
No. The course syllabus you received (in September or January most likely) works like a “contract.” This means that your professor cannot ask you to complete work earlier than the dates set out in that syllabus. If job action is taken assignments will be due at a later date, proportionate to the length of the strike and in accordance with the remediation plan determined by Senate (York University’s governing body)
Can I get my grades before the strike starts?
Probably not, although this may vary with different professors and courses. Part of what the withdrawal of faculty labour means is that we will not be submitting grades until we have a fair and equitable collective agreement. This is not meant to “punish” students but to demonstrate the value of the work we do. We will rely on the terms of the Senate-determined remediation plan to submit all grades at the conclusion of the strike.
Can I still submit work electronically, email my professors, use eClass, etc.?
In the event of a strike or lockout, regular job duties will cease, including grading and/or email. This also means you are not obligated to complete any assignments during the strike. You may, if you choose, complete any outstanding assignments, so long as you do not require any assistance or resources from your professor. Or, you may wait and submit any remaining work under the terms of the remediation plan determined by Senate, and the specific course adaptations each of us will do to make sure we comply with that remediation plan.
Will this affect my graduation?
No. The strike may change the timing of the end of the term, but the term, and the year, will not be lost! The remediation plan will set out the new dates for completing the term, and everyone who is eligible to graduate will still graduate, perhaps just on a different date than originally expected.
Will this affect my tutorials?
While, usually, tutorials are taught by members of a different union (CUPE 3903), and that union is not on strike, all tutorials will also be suspended during the strike (because they are part of the courses being struck). Individual TA’s will have to make their own determination of their role during a strike, as they are advised by their own union.
What about summer term, or summer employment start dates?
We hope that, should there be a strike, it will be short! But, however long the strike, it will be Senate that lays out the “remediation” period. This means that Senate will determine alternate dates for the end of the Winter term and the start of Summer term, as necessary. It may be the case that some students (e.g. international students, those with summer employment dates already fixed, etc.) may not be able to physically be here to complete a remediated term. This has been the case in previous strikes as well, and Senate will likely take this into account. Similarly, individual professors may make accommodations based on needs, within the usual accommodations process and under the terms of the Senate remediation plan.
Will this affect my application to graduate school, law school, other universities, etc?
Likely not. Every other academic institution will know about the strike. Most, if not all, will make accommodations, for example, by offering a conditional acceptance, pending the submission of your final transcripts whenever they are available.
What are my rights?
According to the University Labour Disruptions Policy, you have the right to not cross picket lines, either physically or virtually, even if your professor is holding a class (this includes classes taught by professors who are not members of YUFA). You also have the right to no reprisals, meaning that you cannot be penalized for not attending a class, or not submitting assignments, during the strike. You can also expect that the Senate remediation plan will offer you opportunities to complete the term with integrity after the strike is resolved.
What can I do?
You will notice that both “sides” in this labour dispute say they are acting in the interests of students. You may feel that this is not quite true, and that you are caught in the middle of other people’s disagreements. But you have more power and agency than you may think. Obviously, YUFA members hope that you will agree with us that spending on classroom resources, teaching, research, and equity ought to be prioritized (rather than on more administrators and consultants, for example), and that allowing the legally required model of collegial governance to work as it should (instead of top down decision making) will make for a much better University for all of us, students included. But, even if you don’t agree with YUFA’s position, you should take action - your voice as a student matters, and it matters a lot! Writing letters, starting or signing petitions, making phone calls or sending emails, and organizing as students can help shape the outcome of these negotiations and, if necessary, a strike. If we do strike, your support on the picket lines and adding your voice to the issues will help to ensure a shorter strike. If YUFA members have to take strike action (and we hope we do not!), then we are striking against the Administration, not you.
Where can I get more information?
We strongly advise that you pose any specific questions not covered by the general information above to the student “Ask Me Anything” page. You can also contact your student union (YFS for undergraduate and YUGSA for graduate students). These organizations are mandated to advocate for you specifically.