York strikers reach tentative settlement

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By Wojtek Dabrowski

A dozen Ryerson graduate students taking classes at York University will be back in school Friday providing a tentative deal struck between the university and its striking teaching assistants is ratified.

The students, enrolled in a York/Ryerson joint communications and culture program, weren’t able to attend their classes at York for 11 weeks while a dispute over wages, job security and tuition fees raged on between the university’s 1,786 TAs and administration.

Ryerson graduate studies officer Cathy Faye said the 12 students continued their Ryerson classes normally, but missed between six and nine hours of classes at York each week.

On Tuesday, RyeSAC president Cory Wright praised the York TAs for reaching a deal.

“I think it’s definitely a victory because one of the key issues was the tuition rebate and they got that,” Wright said.

In November, Wright wrote a letter to CUPE local 3093, which represents the TAs in the dispute.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” the letter begins. “We support your strike and recognize that you’re fighting for the rights of all students who are interested in accessible education.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, York’s senate executive committee announced that classes will begin again Friday and will run until May 11, providing the new deal is approved by striking employees.

The ratification vote is expected Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ryerson could soon experience its own union squabbles, as CUPE local 3904 pushes to unionize the approximately 209 TAs working at the school, Wright said.

Ryerson is the only university in the GTA without unionized teaching assistants.

Ryerson TAs began signing union cards in November and organizers hope unionization can be put to a vote in the fall.

Derek Blackadder, a CUPE organizer at Ryerson, said the York strike has given them insight into unionization.

He said they learned more about strike procedures and that tuition hikes are an issue that can be dealt with.

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