OFL condemns York U admin’s attack on peaceful encampment on campus | The Ontario Federation of Labour

OFL condemns York U admin’s attack on peaceful encampment on campus

TORONTO, June 7, 2024 – The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) condemns the decision by the York University administration to choose repression over negotiations in response to a peaceful encampment on campus.

On Wednesday, June 5, York University students and community members set up an encampment in support of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to end their institution’s complicity in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, just as students on other campuses across Canada and internationally have done for the last seven weeks.

Almost immediately, and without any effort to engage their own students, York’s administration issued a trespass order, called the police, and had the encampment cleared–not even 24 hours after it was erected.

“This was a shameful act by an administration that likes to tout its ‘human rights’ credentials and so-called commitment to social justice,” said Laura Walton, OFL President. “York is now the only post-secondary institution in Ontario to use police repression in response to an encampment.

“Rather than negotiate and allow for the right to protest, York’s administration has shown their reliance on force to achieve their desired outcome.”

Student-led encampments concluded peacefully at Ontario Tech University and at McMaster University following good-faith negotiations between students and administrators. Negotiations continue at other campuses, including the University of Toronto, where encampments remain.

The OFL echoes calls by the York Federation of Students and by hundreds of York University faculty for the administration to be held accountable for its actions against the encampment, which included undergraduate and graduate students and unionized staff.

“The labour movement knows how important it is to defend freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” added Walton. “These are Charter rights. When they come under attack for one group, they come under attack for all of us.”

Just a few weeks ago, Toronto police arrested a worker engaged in a lawful picket during the strike by CUPE 3903 at York University.

On May 27, the OFL led a solidarity rally with the student encampment at the University of Toronto, after issuing an open letter to the administration that called for “negotiations and discussion over ultimatums and repression.”

“We’re repeating our call to the York administration for meaningful, good-faith negotiations with the students,” said Walton. “Like their counterparts across North America, York students are raising urgent demands that should be met with encouragement and support, not trespass orders and riot police.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. It is the largest provincial labour federation in Canada. Visit OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

For more information, please contact: 

Jenny Sellathurai
Interim Director of Communications
Ontario Federation of Labour

jsellathurai@ofl.ca  |  416-894-3456