Citing ‘dishonest communications,’ CUPE 3903 files three unfair labour practices complaints against York University

The Union representing striking academic workers at York University has filed an unfair labour practices complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board against their employer.

The complaint, filed late yesterday afternoon by CUPE 3903, alleges that York University violated three sections (Sections 17, 70 and 73) of Ontario’s Labour Relations Act, by misrepresenting their own and the Union’s bargaining positions in both their communications to CUPE 3903 members and to the public.

The complaint also alleges that York University, “and/or individuals acting on behalf of the Employer…are misleading the Union’s membership and the public,” by securing the web address cupe3903.com and configuring the address to redirect visitors to a web page controlled by the University.

“This is not a step we wanted to take, but York’s actions over the past three weeks have left us with no choice,” said CUPE 3903 Chairperson Devin Lefebvre.

“We want a fair contract and we want to be doing the important work we love, but we are faced with an employer more interested in ‘spin’ and misrepresenting ours and their bargaining positions to our members and to the public than they are in sitting down in good faith and negotiating a fair contract,” he added.

Units 1, 2 and 3 of CUPE 3903, representing 3,000 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants, went on strike March 5, after members overwhelmingly rejected York’s last contract offer. After two weeks of refusing to meet, York finally returned to the bargaining table on March 20, but walked away from the table after a few hours of negotiations.

“The parties actually managed to resolve several of the outstanding issues during bargaining on Tuesday. There is a path forward to resolution, but that path goes through a negotiating table and York University needs to stop spinning, stop misrepresenting the parties bargaining positions in their public communications, and start getting serious about negotiating a fair collective agreement,” said Lefebvre.

He added that CUPE 3903 remains ready and available to resume bargaining on short notice.