CUPE Local 3903 - the graduate teachers union at Toronto’s York University - began an indefinite strike today. The union’s 3,600 members will now stay out until they negotiate a victory: in their own words, they ‘strike to win’.

And they have a history of winning. CUPE 3903 have struck successfully before in 2001, 2008-9 and 2015. This time they have 20 demands, ranging from the return of 800 graduate assistant jobs, the bringing of PhD students on the fellowship scheme into collective bargaining, stronger routes for contracted teaching staff to reach tenure, and the establishment of a union-administered fund for victims of sexual violence.

York University has, in the face of a successful and militant coalition of campus staff unions begun a union-busting strategy. At stake in this strike is not only the working conditions of staff, but also the future of collective bargaining. At its core, this struggle is over who has the right to control university as a whole.

Callum Cant and Jamie Woodcock visited the picket line to talk to striking workers to find out what comparisons can be drawn to the current university strikes in the UK.


Callum Cant (@CallumCant1)

Callum Cant is the author of Working for Deliveroo and a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. His research focuses on Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, and how technological change interacts with worker self-organisation.

Jamie Woodcock (@jamie_woodcock)

Jamie Woodcock works as a researcher.