NDP leader Howard Hampton says the Liberals could have done more to avert the current crisis - sessional and part-time staff have been off the job for 11 weeks now.
"We didn't need to reach this unprecedented stage, but the McGuinty Liberals chose to sit on the sidelines for nearly three months," says Hampton.
Hampton fingered York administration with the blame for the whole drawn out affair and refusing to negotiate in good fait.
"Now the Premier is at his clumsy best trying to clean up the mess he created and providing a crutch for a University administration unwilling to negotiate with its workers to give students the educational experience they've paid for," says Hampton.
According to Hampton, York sessional and part-time teachers carry 54 per cent of the teaching workload, but account for only 7.5 per cent of the entire annual budget in salary and benefits.
A main sticking point is length of contract. CUPE 3903, the union representing workers, is asking for a two year deal, which would put it in line to expire in 2010 at the same time as the contracts of other part-time and sessional workers at universities across the province. York's offering a three-year deal.
The union's other demands include: smaller class sizes; a commitment to employment equity in hiring; better health dental and vision care and child care expenses.
Some of the union's other demands - whistle-blower protection for staff and an end to the highly-controversial Student Code of Conduct - indicate the tensions between staff and university administration run deeper than just salary issues.
The union have called a Town Hall for members (tonight, 6pm and 9 pm, at Trinity St. Paul, 427 Bloor West) to discuss the province's back-to-work order and explore its options.
Here are a few more numbers to chew on:
- 3.7 Percentage cost of living has increased in Toronto over last year
- 9.25 The percentage increase in salary York U's offering over three years
- 15 The per cent overall enrollment has declined at York since the strike started 11 weeks ago
- 55 The per cent enrollment has declined in the arts program at York
- 63 The per cent of CUPE workers that rejected York's final offer in a force ratification vote last week