Live: York Senate re-claimers hold Town Hall

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

Students reclaiming the Senate Chamber at York University are holding a Town Hall on Thursday night to open up a discussion over how the group should move forward with holding the university accountable for its actions. 

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CCLA release human rights report

Tap into all York strike coverage


From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Students For 3903 are holding the meeting at the re-branded “Student Chamber” on the ninth floor of the Ross Building to hear out suggestions on what moves it should take.

The occupation told The Avro Post that it will be live streamed, and it will be carried on the Post’s website.

The event comes just before Good Friday, a civic holiday, and a week after the occupation started following the last Senate meeting.

The university on Monday requested the Ontario Ministry of Labour hold a forced vote, a one-time request that has all members of the CUPE local union fill out ballots on whether to accept the latest offer from York and end the strike or continue.

A forced vote was rejected by the public college faculty union last fall when the College Employers Council submitted a request for it to be carried out.


Who are the occupiers?

The occupying student group is acting in support of the local 3903 Canadian Union of Public Employees that make up some 60 per cent of the faculty at York and went on strike on Mar. 5, but is also advocating on behalf of students.

Primarily, they want to have all classes cancelled until the strike is over, a move the university told the occupiers on Sunday would not happen.

Secondly, the student group demands York return to the negotiating table with CUPE 3903 without offering concessions.

The group also demands a tuition refund to all students for the Winter term, a request made by Humber College students last fall which was denied.

A final listed demand is for more information on why York’s president, Rhonda Lenton, allegedly spent at least $20,000 on “personal expenses”, numbers that have not been verified at this point.

York University and the occupiers have exchanged several statements on social media but students at the Senate say that only one member of the administration has visited, but not in an official capacity.

University staffer Debbie Hanson was sent on Saturday to the chamber and dropped off care packages, but beyond that, official contact has been through press releases by both sides.

Security was tightened on Monday morning amid reports the Students For CUPE 3903 would be evicted from the chamber they’ve occupied since the last Senate meeting on Mar. 22, a week ago.

The university had temporarily blocked ninth floor elevator access to the public and press on Monday, but was restored Tuesday morning.

The university maintains that students enrolled at York may leave and return from the chamber as they wish as part of the occupation.

Occupiers told The Avro Post on Monday they do not intend to leave until the demands are met.

“We are still here, we have reclaimed this space, and we are building community,” the occupiers tweeted on Tuesday.

“Come join us!”


CCLA releases report, criticizes York security measures

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association on Monday released a detailed report on the status of human rights conditions for the ongoing contract faculty strike at York University and called on the university to halt new security measures.


Forced vote called by university

Tap into all York strike coverage


The civil rights monitor published a preliminary report on rights violations based on a survey taken by 194 people along questioning to do with security and freedom of speech, with 7.2 per cent saying they have been detained.

Just below 16 per cent of respondents said they felt the university “was on your side”, with 68.2 per cent saying they felt “evidence was being gathered” about them.

When asked whether they felt “intimidated or harassed by York [University] security [officials] or by a private security officer”, 55.4 per cent of respondents said that they had.

Several more results were:

  • 27.7 said they have been asked for identificatoin
  • 16.2 per cent said they had video or audio of “something disturbing”
  • 68 per cent were filmed without consent
  • 40 per cent said their answers discouraged them from participating in the strike or protest

‘Campus under siege’

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association published a press release calling on York University to “remove the private security, stop the surveillance and end intimidating tactics that chill constitutions rights to protest and strike.”

CCLA’s Michael Bryant went to say “we’ve got your back”, and thanked all those that took their survey on the status of human rights violations during the Canadian Union of Public Employees loacl 3903 strike.

Mr. Bryant also noted in the press release that York President Rhonda Lenton responded to the charges laid out by the CCLA via phone and in writing.

In response, Ms. Lenton said that York “does not condone any form of violence” and are using the increased security measures to monitor the “risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors, during the current strike and we comply with applicable laws.”

Outside the Senate Chamber where Students For CUPE 3903 are continuing their occupation, security setup cameras and temporarily blocked access on Monday, a move the university quickly backtracked on.


More details to follow. Image of the strike from the Toronto Star. 

 

 

 

 

Forced vote in York strike criticized by union

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

Since York University requested a forced vote supervised by the Ontario government on Monday, the striking contract faculty union has criticized the move as a waste of time. 

The local 3903 Canadian Union of Public Employees, which makes up for 60 per cent of teaching faculty at the university, has been on strike since Mar. 5 after the two sides failed to secure a collective bargaining agreement.

In labour disputes, the Ministry of Labour can be brought in once for a forced vote by the employer in an attempt to end the strike.

It takes some 10 to 12 days for the ministry to carry out a “supervised vote”, where every member of CUPE 3903 will have the opportunity to vote on accepting York’s latest offer via secret ballot.

“By doing so, the York administration continues to reject the process of bargaining constructively with CUPE 3903,” the union said in a statement.

CUPE has called on its members to vote against the offer that they say is “largely the same disapointing and unacceptable offer that York proposed before the strike.”

Union leaders said they are “confident that once our membership again rejects this offer, a better settlement can be reached through collective bargaining.”

Three units of the union are engaged in the bargaining for a new agreement: One is made up of those with teaching contracts, the second contains teaching contract or assistants that are not full-time graduate students, and number three withholds graduate or research assistants that are full-time graduate students.

Each unit operates somewhat independently within the union and each vote to strike and to ratify tentative agreements.


Other union concerned

The York University Faculty Union said on Tuesday that they are concerned about the university’s approach to contract negotiations as they enter bargaining to renegotiate their own collective agreement.

YUFA, and the York University Staff Association, are the other two faculty unions on the campuses of York.

YUFA said “the tactics used against CUPE 3903, including delayed bargaining, intense public relations, a focred ratification vote and heightened, possibly illegal security measures, may well be employed against other campus unions”.

The faculty union said “the constant dissemination of aggressive administration messaging” combined with “chaos” during the academic term “has become extremely stressful and divisive” for those at York,  particularly students.

YUFA on Wednesday noted that the forced vote includes a settlement offer that would reinstate an old program that saw “long -serving CUPE 3903 members transferred to renewable term YUFA appointments.”

Essentially, 3903 members would be voting on an issue that would bring major changes to the current YUFA Collective Agreement, which the union said it would not accept.

YUFA made this clear to York on Tuesday.


More details to follow. Image of the picketers from BlogTO.  

Live: York Senate occupation

Staff | The Avro Post

Students occupying the York University Senate Chamber are live streaming the hallway outside the doors. 


Live: York Senate

Watch the live stream via Students For CUPE 3903 on Facebook.

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More details to follow. Image of the Senate Chamber doors on Monday from The Avro Post. 

York Senate occupation set to continue for a 6th night

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

The Senate Chamber occupation by York University students heads into a sixth night on Tuesday, without any sign of the university giving into demands and security presence on the rise.


From inside the occupation

All coverage of the occupation


Security was tightened on Monday morning amid reports the Students For CUPE 3903 would be evicted from the chamber they’ve occupied since the last Senate meeting on Thursday.

The university had temporarily blocked ninth floor elevator access to the public on Monday, but was restored Tuesday morning.

The university maintains that students enrolled at York may leave and return from the chamber as they wish as part of the occupation.

However, security started blocking the stairs by the chamber on Monday and they remain locked, according to students on site.

“We are still here, we have reclaimed this space, and we are building community,” the occupiers tweeted on Tuesday.

“Come join us!”

The student group is acting in support of the local 3903 Canadian Union of Public Employees that make up some 60 per cent of the faculty at York and went on strike four weeks ago, but is also advocating on behalf of students.

Primarily, they want to have all classes cancelled until the strike is over, a move the Senate has previously delayed with the support of the university administration.

Secondly, the student group demands York return to the negotiating table with CUPE 3903 without offering concessions.

The group also demands a tuition refund to all students for the Winter term, a request made by Humber College students last fall which was denied.

A final listed demand is for more information on why York’s president, Rhonda Lenton, allegedly spent at least $20,000 on “personal expenses”, numbers that have not been verified at this point.

York University and the occupiers have exchanged several statements on social media but students at the Senate say that only one member of the administration has visited, but not in an official capacity.

University staffer Debbie Hanson was sent on Saturday to the chamber and dropped off care packages.


More details to follow. Image of inside the Senate Chamber occupation on Mar. 26, 2018 from The Avro Post. 

Non-occupiers pushed from Senate floor at York

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

Those not part of the Senate Chamber occupation at York University will be pushed out of the ninth floor starting at 9 a.m., university officials told media.

CP24, CityTV and The Avro Post departed the floor at 9:10 a.m. with the understanding that we would not be able to return.

Occupiers that leave can return, according to the official.


More details to follow. Image of York University Senate Chamber from The Avro Post.

Analysis: Inside the York Senate occupation

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

Students occupying the Senate Chamber at York University in support of the striking faculty union allowed The Avro Post to enter the sit-in and interview one of the students involved. 


York to evict students – source

Read all coverage of the York strike


Karmah Dudin, fourth year political science at York, told me that they were largely not letting mainstream media inside the chamber, but that student journalists were allowed to enter, but I was not allowed to take any photos or videos.

The students involved have been in there since the last Senate meeting ended on Thursday, and have not left except to shower and change, Ms. Dudin told me.

“We’ve been getting a lot of support,” she said, explaining that people have been by to drop off supplies and even to join the occupation.

In regards to the statement York published earlier on Sunday, Dudin said her group “doesn’t really believe the support is genuine or really tangible”.

She described an incident where an individual that is part of the administration came, but not on behalf of York, to drop off care packages with toothpaste, deodorant and tooth brushes, saying “that is all that has been done”.

When I asked her if the Students for CUPE 3903 group would keep going until their four demands are met, she said very clearly: “yep”.

I asked her about how she thought it was all going to end as York does not appear open to meeting the demands, and she said “it was about something so much bigger” than classes continuing.

“This is about taking control of this campus, and taking control away from people who have a lot of corporate interests who are completely detached from the community, and giving it back to students and the workers and the teachers that really operate this university.”

She added: “if they don’t meet these demands, this is definitely going to grow, it’s already growing into something bigger.”

Dudin said over the weekend many new people joined the cause, some no affiliations.

York administration said in their Sunday statement that they wanted all non-students and CUPE 3903 union members to leave the chamber.

She avoided telling me whether there were CUPE 3903 members in the chamber, but said that the union was appreciative of the students support and that individuals “from all over the place” have come to support the occupation, without expanding.

In response to my final question over the atmosphere in the chamber and how occupiers were holding up, Diden admitted its tiring to occupy and the group has to face daily challenges, but said “people are extremely pumped up”.

“I’ll be honest with you, the administration’s response has actually energized people because we felt like it was undermining us and really got to people.”

“People are really ready to keep going.”


Atmosphere

A video posted by City TV reporter Tammie Sutherland showed the state of the chamber on Mar. 23, the Friday after the first night the students had stayed over.

It has not changed drastically since then, from what I saw. More signs were around the room, and it was busy around the time I was there, about 6:15 p.m. on Sunday night.


More details to follow. Image of the Senate Chamber sign early on Monday morning from Eli Ridder/The Avro Post. 

Students, security deny eviction report

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

A source told The Avro Post on Sunday night that York University planned to evict the student occupation of the Senate Chamber on Monday morning, but students outside the chamber and the security team denied there would be eviction. 

A local union sent a mass message out to several accounts on Twitter Sunday night saying that they had heard from a reliable source that the university was planning to kick the students from the chamber at 8 a.m. the next day.

Students said that they knew nothing of the alleged eviction and security services on campus told CP24 that no such an action was planned.

The individual source said that the students occupying the chamber expected the university to “try getting in” on Monday morning.

The occupiers did not respond to a request for comment via the previously used communication channel.

Students supporting the striking local 3903 Canadian Union of Public Employees have occupied the meeting for the Senate in the Ross Building since Thursday evening.

The students let The Avro Post into their stakeout, where spirits were high and the environment was tense, but also light.

York University published a statement on Sunday afternoon that said it would not meet the demand the Students for CUPE 3903 group to halt classes

The York administration also formally requested all CUPE 3903 members and those not enrolled at York to leave the chamber as they found individuals “who are not members of the York community troubling”.

However, students said that CUPE 3903 members are not inside and have only acted to support the students.

Only undergraduate students were inside as of Monday morning, according to students outside the chamber.


Four days

Students supporting the striking faculty union at York University have been occupying the Senate Chamber for four days as of Sunday, since the Senate meeting last week.

The university has largely remained silent on the sit-in, but said in Sunday’s statement saying that the “health and saftey of the undergraduate students participating” in the sit-in is “of paramount concern to us.”

“Although the university doesn’t condone or encourage the sit-in, we respect our students’ right to express their views,” the statement reads.

“In addition to ensuring our students do have the necessities, including water and access to washroom facilities, maintaining the safety of the building environment, university property and facilities is also a concern.”

CUPE local 3903 has been on strike since Mar. 5, with classes continuing for faculty not part of CUPE.

Marginally less staff are part of the other campus union, the York University Faculty Association.

The occupying students still remain rooted to their spot in the chamber and have stated four demands they want fulfilled before departing the occupation.

Primarily, they want to have all classes cancelled until the strike is over, a move the Senate has previously delayed with the support of the university administration.

Secondly, the student group demands York return to the negotiating table with CUPE 3903 without offering concessions.

The group also demands a tuition refund to all students for the Winter term, a request made by Humber College students last fall which was denied.

A final listed demand is for more information on why York’s president, Rhonda Lenton, allegedly spent at least $20,000 on “personal expenses”.

York made clear in the statement that it said classes would continue “based on an assessment of what is in the best interests of all our students”.

“Staying open and running those classes that could run has provided our students with the ability to make choices based on their own personal circumstances, respecting the needs of the thousands of students who are continuing to attend classes, as scheduled.”


More details to follow. Image of the Senate Chamber from Eli Ridder/The Avro Post. 

York University Senate sit-in reaches day 4

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

Students supporting the striking faculty union at York University have been occupying the Senate Chamber for four days as of Sunday, since the Senate meeting last week. 

The university has largely remained silent on the sit-in, but on Sunday afternoon released a statement saying that the “health and saftey of the undergraduate students participating” in the sit-in is “of paramount concern to us.”

“Although the university doesn’t condone or encourage the sit-in, we respect our students’ right to express their views,” the statement reads.

“In addition to ensuring our students do have the necessities, including water and access to washroom facilities, maintaining the safety of the building environment, university property and facilities is also a concern.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3903 has been on strike since Mar. 5, with classes continuing for faculty not part of CUPE.

Marginally less staff are part of the other campus union, the York University Faculty Association.

The occupying students still remain rooted to their spot in the chamber and have stated four demands they want fulfilled before departing the occupation.

Primarily, they want to have all classes cancelled until the strike is over, a move the Senate has previously delayed with the support of the university administration.

Secondly, the student group demands York return to the negotiating table with CUPE 3903 without offering concessions.

The group also demands a tuition refund to all students for the Winter term, a request made by Humber College students last fall which was denied.

A final listed demand is for more information on why York’s president, Rhonda Lenton, allegedly spent at least $20,000 on “personal expenses”.

York made clear in Sunday’s statement that it said classes would continue “based on an assessment of what is in the best interests of all our students”.

“Staying open and running those classes that could run has provided our students with the ability to make choices based on their own personal circumstances, respecting the needs of the thousands of students who are continuing to attend classes, as scheduled.”


More details to follow. Image of York University from BlogTO. 

 

Pro-union students occupy York Senate chambers

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

Students supporting the striking faculty union at York University are currently occupying the York University Senate chambers to push for a full cancellation of classes, among other items.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3903 has been on strike since Mar. 5, with classes continuing for faculty not part of the union.

Marginally less staff are part of the other campus union, the York University Faculty Association.

The occupying students still remain rooted to their spot in the chambers.

Students have stated four demands they want fulfilled before departing the chambers.

Primarily, they want to have all classes cancelled until the strike is over, a move the Senate has previously delayed with the support of the university administration.

Secondly, the student group demands York return to the negotiating table with CUPE 3903 without offering concessions.

The group also demands a tuition refund to all students for the Winter term, a request made by Humber College students last fall which was denied.

A final listed demand is for more information on why York’s president, Rhonda Lenton, allegedly spent at least $20,000 on “personal expenses”.

The occupiers set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Friday for the university to meet the demands, but there has been no response from York, said the students on Twitter.


More details to follow. Image of the scene from Karmah for BoG on Twitter.

York University offers bargaining return

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

York University said on Sunday evening that it informed the striking faculty union that it is prepared to return to the bargaining table with the provincial mediator’s assistance on Tuesday. 

“So far, there continues to no evidence of movement by CUPE 3903, with 41 union demands still on the table with wage increments, expansion of benefits and other increases that significantly exceed sector norms,” the York statement said.

“We have been clear from the outset that we see no reason for the disruptive and harmful effect of a strike on our students.”

The local Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903 launched a strike nearly two weeks ago with strong approval from its 3,700 members, the largest, but just only, union on the York campus.

Classes for faculty still working have largely continued to much student criticism.

A smaller percentage of the campus are part of the York University Faculty Association.


More details to follow. Image of the York University Keele Campus sign from previous files. 

York to consider halting all classes

Eli Ridder | The Post

York University is holding a Senate meeting on Thursday to discuss a motion to suspend all classes for the duration of the union strike. 

York President Rhonda Benton and the Senate Executive Committee are reportedly aiming to stand against the motion, which is outlined in the meeting agenda.

Several departments of the university have already unilaterally suspended courses for the length of the strike.

The two bargaining teams have not met since last week before a deadline passed on Mar. 1, with York refusing an invitation from the Local 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees to come to the table.

“I don’t understand why they don’t just cancel the classes and get to the table to fix this and give them what they deserve,” a Twitter user by the name Hadeth said in response to  students feeling stressed over the strike.

“That would be in our interest cause this mess sure isn’t.”

The York University Faculty Union, which represents the other faculty not under CUPE 3903, have expressed their support in standing in solidarity with the picketing contract faculty, teachers assistants, course directors and others that make up the union.

Also expressing their solidarity with the union is fellow CUPE Local 2424, who are striking at Carleton University in Ottawa.


Image of picketers from Twitter. 

York University contract faculty launch strike

Eli Ridder | The Post

The union representing contract faculty, teaching assistants and others at York University went on strike just past midnight on Monday.

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 and the York negotiating teams failed to meet over the weekend, with the university saying the two sides were too far apart for a last minute agreement.

CUPE Local 3903 has been engaged in negotiations with the university since August of last year, and passed a deadline on Mar. 1 to finalize a new contract.

CUPE 3903 entered strike status at 12:01 a.m. with its members that make up some 60 per cent of the York faculty.

The strike will launch with a rally at 11:30 a.m. at Main Gate with all union members picketing in attendance.

Regular picketing starts on Tuesday in dual shifts for weekdays: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Students that support the faculty strike are also holding a rally at 11:30 a.m. at the Keele Campus Main Gate.

Students for CUPE 3903 is made up of enrolled undergraduates who criticize the contract conditions of the union faculty.

Another student group, Socialist Fightback at York University, is holding a solidarity event at 10:45 a.m. at the 4211 Keele St. Tim Hortons by the Keele Campus.


More details to follow. Image of York University from previous files.

York University contract faculty set to strike

Eli Ridder | The Post

The union representing contract faculty, teaching assistants and others at York University is set to strike on Monday as the employer will not attempt to reach a deal over the weekend, according to a union statement on Saturday. 

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 has been engaged in negotiations with the university since August of last year, and passed a deadline on Mar. 1 to finalize a new contract.

Its members voted on Friday to reject York’s final offer, following the advice of CUPE 3903’s bargaining representatives and its administration, and in favour of striking if no deal was reached by the next workday, Monday.

Union spokesperson Leena Nasr said members “directed negotiators to make themselves available to York University over the weekend” on Friday.

However, CUPE announced on Saturday morning that “the news from the bargaining team is that there will be no bargaining this weekend.”

“Shame on [York University] for not even taking the opportunity to try to reach a resolution,” the union tweeted.

“Class schedules will be available Sunday and communicated. Visit yorku.ca/labour for latest information and updates,” posted York on Saturday.


More details to follow. Image of York University from previous files. 

CUPE admin rejects York deadline offer

Eli Ridder | The Post

Leadership officials at the union representing York University faculty unanimously recommended the union reject the final offer from the Toronto-based institution, which could trigger a strike as the bargaining deadline passes.

Section 3903 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees have been engaged in negotiations since Sept. 25 of last year after the last contract between the school its union employees expired on Aug. 31 of 2017.

“The bargaining team for Units 1, 2, and 3, as well as the Executive Committee unanimously voted to recommend that CUPE 3903 REJECT the employer’s final offer,” the union said in a statement.

“Several concessions remain on the table, most notably the destruction of the Conversions program and Graduate Assistant jobs and the increase in ticketed Course Directorships.”

Members will be voting on the final offer from York on Friday that will determine whether the union will go on strike.

CUPE 3903 represents contract faculty, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, part-time librarians and part-time archivists at York University.

Union official Lina Nasr told the Post on Wednesday that the deadline of Mar. 1 “simply refers to the last oppurtunity for York to provide a comphrensive package for CUPE members to vote on.”

“If by that date they have not provided anything new, then we assume their last pass to be the final offer and hold a strike vote with that in mind.”


More details to follow. Image of Veri Hall at York University from Wikimedia Commons. 

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