From Jesse Doehler-Knox, Constituency Assistant to Rosario Marchese, NDP MPP for Trinity-Spadina:
Thank you for your correspondence on the York University strike. We support you on this issue and will strongly oppose back to work legislation.
New Democrats acknowledge and appreciate the genuine concerns of all those affected by the strike. Students are concerned it will have a significant impact on their education. We share that concern, however, we cannot support the back-to-work legislation.
By refusing to return to the negotiating table to consider a significantly revised offer made by the striking workers, the York University administration has put the academic year further in jeopardy.
The grounds for the back-to-work legislation is that there is a negotiating deadlock. There is no deadlock.
The York University administration, aided by the inaction of the McGuinty government, has exacerbated the crisis. The back-to-work legislation provides them with a convenient crutch that strips away the rights of workers to collectively bargain.
York's Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants and Contract Faculty are seeking fair compensation for the work they do. They perform more than 50 per cent of the teaching at the university, yet they have little in the way of job security.
New Democrats believe the chronic hiring of mostly part-time and casual workers at low wages has become a deliberate strategy on the part of York University and the McGuinty government, which refuses to properly
fund universities to the point that Ontario is now ranked dead last among all provinces in per capita university funding.
We believe that Ontario students deserve quality education and uninterrupted instruction in higher education. This will not happen until the provincial government provides adequate funding.
We also believe that the long-term interests of the workers and the students are best served by a fair and equitable agreement negotiated by both parties through free and open collective bargaining. The McGuinty government has a responsibility to encourage and facilitate such bargaining. The legislation allows the government to duck that significant responsibility.
We want to see York students go back to their classes: Classes that are taught by workers who are treated fairly and compensated adequately.