A counter-offer made by a union representing striking contract faculty, teaching assistants and other staff at York University has been rejected by the school’s bargaining team.

CUPE 3903 tabled the offer through a provincially-appointed concillator on Monday evening, hours after its members first walked off the job.

A spokesperson for the union had told CP24 that the offer was made with the hope that it would get both sides back to the bargaining table; however York University subsequently rejected the offer outright.

The main issues of contention in the labour dispute revolve around job security for part-time workers and the path to full-time tenured employment for contract faculty.

“What we received were some very minor revisions to the last offer so unfortunately we don’t think there is anything in the revisions that we have been presented that can form the basis of an agreement,” York University spokesperson Barbara Joy told CP24 on Tuesday afternoon. “We are disappointed with what we saw today. There were very minor revisions to what we saw previously.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, York slammed the union for making a counter-offer that includes demands that are “significantly outside the reach of the university.”

According to the statement, the latest offer included a proposal to appoint 30 contract faculty to full-time positions in each year of the collective agreement, 20 of which would be tenure-stream positions that would be filled without a “open collegial search,” as per the current practice.

Furthermore, York said that the counter offer included a proposed 3.5 per cent wage increase per year, which it said is roughly double the average increase given to contract faculty at other Ontario universities.

York University has previously offered the union wage increases of 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 per cent over the next three years.

“In the best interests of the entire York community, especially our students, we urge CUPE 3903 to provide York with a realistic counter offer as soon as possible, that shows renewed collective agreements are achievable through continued negotiations,” the statement from the university reads.

Union voted against purported “best offer”

Members of CUPE 3903 voted against what was billed as a “final offer” from the university on Friday with about 85 per cent of all those eligible casting ballots.

Officials with the union had said that they were willing to return to the bargaining table this past weekend but York University said that the two sides were “too far apart” to make a resumption of negotiations worthwhile.

Speaking with CP24 earlier on Tuesday, CUPE Spokesperson Kevin Wilson said the sides must get back to negotiations in order to bring an end to the labour stoppage, which is now in its second day.

“We can move forward at the bargaining table provided that we have a willing partner at the bargaining table and thus far we have not had one,” he said.

Some classes have been cancelled

About 60 per cent of all classes at York University are taught by CUPE 3903 members, according to the union.

The university has said that as many classes as possible will continue during the strike, though some have been cancelled.

Joy, meanwhile, told CP24 that the university is standing by an offer that it believes is “the best in Ontario.”

She said that the strike could be brought to a “quick end” if CUPE 3903 agrees to submit to binding arbitration on the outstanding issues.

Wilson, however, said that concessions being asked for by the university “are not an option.”

“They still presented an offer that is moving the sector backwards as opposed to forward. There were improvements in some areas but there was also concessions that remained on the table,” he said.

Members of CUPE 3903 have been without a contract since Aug. 31.