EDITORIAL: York University strike tentatively concludes

Apr 18, 2024 | Editorial

Organizations have to be held accountable for compensating their employees fairly.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903 (CUPE) represents over 3,000 academic workers, including those at York University.

The academic strike at York University has tentatively come to an end after over seven weeks, as reported by the Canadian Press.

Teaching assistants, graduate assistants and contract instructors of the CUPE went on a strike at midnight on Feb. 26, 2024.

“Strikes are struggles, they are a fight for the wages and collective agreements we deserve,” the union said in a press release.

The workers demanded that the university address the affordability crisis, equity issues and quality of education, CUPE said in a press release.

The strike began three days after Bill 124 was repealed for being unconstitutional. Bill 124 restricted wage increases for public sector employees to a maximum of one per cent in total for three years.

The bill negatively impacted all public-sector workers in the province, CUPE said.

The Ontario Court of Appeal said it violates the union workers’ rights for collective negotiations.

The strikes by public sector employees like academic workers not only affect the organizations and the members of the organizations but also put the students’ education in jeopardy.

Due to the institution and the employees not seeing eye-to-eye and reaching a settlement, thousands of students were left in the lurch.

Around 54,000 students are currently enrolled in York University’s undergraduate and graduate programs, according to the university website.

The workers resorted to a strike that took almost two months to resolve the differences with the employers, putting the futures of these students on hold.

International students pay hefty sums to be able to attend these universities.

They pay between $20,000 to $35,000 per year, according to Statistics Canada.

Educational institutions have to understand their responsibility towards their students. They have to realize they’re accountable for the quality of education provided, by making sure they compensate their faculty and advisors appropriately.

According to a study at York University in 2006, students reported significant interference with their academic work because of the interruption of classes and an overall diminished sense of productivity. There were also reports of emotional distress.

According to a Hayer Law news release, strikes are stressful for students, especially for international students. It can be particularly challenging because they may wonder about its implications for their status in Canada.

Suspension of education facilities has an impact on student’s academic careers as well as the state of their future career paths and puts unnecessary pressure on them.

Students attending institutions undergoing strikes are left to wonder about refunds, repeating their courses, exams not taking place and graduation concerns.

The course of their lives is left hanging in the balance.

Canada’s economy is still not out of the woods and has put everyone here at the edges of their seats. The cost of living is extremely high and many people are barely breaking even.

If the academic workers and staff are compensated in a fair way, the quality of their work will flourish.