TORONTO, June 1, 2023 /CNW/ – York University Staff Association (YUSA) Unit 2 members will be holding a strike vote after the university proposes wage increases that would set their hourly pay below minimum wage.
The workers’ contract expired February 2022 and negotiations only began in February of 2023. The two parties had met 12 times before a No Board Report was requested by the University on May 31.
YUSA Unit 2 members perform administrative and technical work on a contract basis at the university. YUSA Unit 2 staff are the lowest paid and most precarious workers at York University. The university currently provides these workers with no benefits, no paid sick leave, and no job security.
Currently the lowest pay rate for YUSA Unit 2 members starts at minimum wage. This is far lower than a living wage in the GTA. The minimum wage is set to increase to $16.55 in October of this year. The university has proposed wage increases that would, on paper, set the entry rate for workers’ pay at less than minimum wage. These low wages are being proposed despite the university enjoying a budgetary surplus of over $30 million dollars in the last fiscal year.
Workers in YUSA Unit 2 are seeking modest dental and health benefits similar to those provided to students at the university. The cost to the university to provide every member of the bargaining unit with these benefits would be $150,000 per year, comparable to the cost of the salary of one management position at the university. In comparison, the budget of the university is over $1.2 billion per year.
Despite soaring inflation rates, the university is proposing wage increases of 2.25% and 2.20% percent a year for these already underpaid workers. In the previous round of negotiations workers’ wage increases were capped by Doug Ford’s Bill 124 which capped salary increases at 1%. The very same bill impacts registered nurses, education workers, and health-care professionals.
In response to these egregiously low wage offers and refusal to provide benefits, staff at the university will be holding a strike vote in the coming weeks which could see hundreds of workers walk off the job before the end of June if an agreement is not reached.
“It’s shameful that the third largest university in Canada, which currently has a $30 million dollar budget surplus, is tabling an offer that would set hourly rates for workers at less than minimum wage. All workers at York University deserve fair pay and decent working conditions.” said Sonny Day, President of the York University Staff Association.
“I believe that the university is having trouble attracting and retaining staff because of the abysmally low wages on offer. We hear often about the phenomenon “quiet quitting” but with York University offering staff total compensation lower than what many workers at Starbucks or McDonalds receive, our members are quite loudly demanding a fair wage.”
SOURCE: York University staff association
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