Ontario Appoints Expert to Investigate Six-Week Strike
Industrial Inquiry Commission Will Look at Key Issues in York University Dispute
Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn has appointed William Kaplan to conduct an Industrial Inquiry Commission to facilitate a resolution in the dispute involving CUPE Local 3903 and York University.
On rare occasions, the Minister may find it necessary to use additional powers under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 to examine labour disputes. Section 37 of the act, for example, allows the Minister to appoint a Commission "to inquire into and report to the Minister on any industrial matter or dispute that the Minister considers advisable."
The strike began on March 5, 2018, and involves employees from three CUPE Local 3903 units representing graduate teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate research assistants.
At the request of York University, under Section 42 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, the Minister of Labour directed a "last offer" vote on March 27, 2018. The employees voted overwhelmingly to reject the employer's offer.
Kaplan has been appointed as the Commission's sole member. He will be responsible for examining the relationship between the parties, identifying key issues in the dispute, investigating the dispute's underlying causes and assessing prospects of settlement.
Following the inquiry, the Commission will report back to the Minister of Labour on any remaining issues in dispute and advise on next steps.
- The last appointment of an Industrial Inquiry Commission was in 2015, involving the United Steelworkers and Crown Metal Packaging Canada LP.
- In 2017, the average length of strikes and lock-outs in Ontario was under four weeks.
“Ontario continues to have an excellent labour relations track record – 98 per cent of negotiations were reached without any work stoppage. We understand that parties may require support beyond the bargaining table. The Commissioner will bring his neutrality, impartiality and experience to the remaining issues in dispute and report on what, if any, steps could then be taken to address them.”