On Campus

Ont gov whistling past graveyard on York strike

The provincial government could end the standoff: it’s choosing not to

From today’s The Globe and Mail:

There seems to be little concern in the Ontario government that York is crippling itself at a time when the economy needs more “knowledge workers.” Universities Minister John Milloy acknowledges the strike is “unfortunate,” but says he can’t intervene in the bargaining at an autonomous institution. “There is a process which is unfolding and we’re going to see what happens,” he said.

More political spin from the Ontario government. Minister Milloy can bring an end to the strike. The government bringing an end to the strike would not be easy and, instead, he is choosing to not get involved.

The government has two main options on the table.

It can pass back-to-work legislation (which, for the political reasons I noted last week, it will not) to send the dispute to binding arbitration. Back to work legislation is seen as anti-union for many reasons. Considering how strongly the government has resisted pressure so far, I’m hard pressed to see the government changing its mind.

The second option is for the government to give York University the funding necessary to meet CUPE 3903 bargaining demands. This is the pro-union option the government has on the table. The problem for the government here is that it just gave its own union less over four years than CUPE is demanding over two.

The Ontario Public Service Employees union reached a four-year contract with the government with provides “A wage increase of 1.75 per cent in the first year (retroactive to Jan. 1, 2009), and 2 per cent per year in the remaining three years.” CUPE is demanding 11 per cent over two years in wage increases.

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