Monday, November 17, 2008

Message to York undergrads from CUPE 3903

Original here.
York Undergrads… Frustrated by the Strike?

Published on 17 Nov 2008

So Are We!

Why are we frustrated?
We’ve been at the bargaining table with York University’s administration since July, trying to get a fair contract for over 3000 contract faculty, teaching and graduate assistants. The administration has refused to present us with a reasonable contract offer and has forced us to go on strike. This was our last resort.

We are going without pay from York for as long as we are on strike, and most of our members are students who paid fees this term so this is neither fun nor economically stable for us.

The administration is trying to turn our students (and the public) against us by misrepresenting our needs and demands in the media.

Why are we on strike?
Our contract was up for renewal and we asked for job security for contract faculty, some of whom have been teaching at York for many years; fair wages for all; and funds to catch up with the growth in our membership since our last contract.

Right now we do more than half the teaching on campus but less than 10% of York’s budget goes to our contract. We want more money going into teaching and learning in the classroom. That’s what you pay for.

We want to negotiate a fair settlement but the University is effectively refusing to bargain.

CUPE 3903 members, as students and teachers, have no interest in disrupting classes. Education is what we do every day – it is our main concern and our job. For many us, our studies have also been interrupted.

Striking is our only option

Going on strike is our legal right and it’s the only option we have to pressure the administration to deal fairly with our membership.

You can help end the strike…

Send a direct message to York U President Mamdouh Shoukri by going to:

Come out and march with us on the picket lines!
We’ll be at York’s Keele and Glendon campuses from 7am-7pm, Monday to Friday

Tell York what you think:

• Support your TAs, contract faculty and GAs in CUPE 3903.
• Value our teaching, support and research.
• Classroom teaching should be THE main priority in York’s budget.
• Negotiate at the bargaining table ASAP – NOT in the media.
• Respect CUPE 3903’s legal right to collective bargaining instead of using forced arbitration to score cheap PR points.

Write or call these people:
• Mamdouh Shoukri, President Tel: 416-736-5200 Fax: 416-736-5641
• Peter Sadlier-Brown, Special Advisor to the President,
• Ken Fasciano, Manager, Communications,

Thanks for your support!


NA Patriot said...

I notice that here you provide only the option to contact the Administration and no way for students to tell the Union what it thinks. Can you help students communicate with the Union as well? Perhaps they have a balanced message they want to communicate and maybe they doubt that the solution entirely involves concessions from the Administration. In these economic times, I am sensing even undergraduates have a more nuanced understanding of the reality of the situation.

ADHR said...

Follow the link at the top, and scroll down. Then you can find the contacts.

That said, the "in these economic times" line is pure spin. The university admin has been gleefully handing themselves double-digit raises, so reasonable people should seriously doubt the administration's honesty.

I'm not sure what "nuances" you think are missing. Perhaps you could elaborate.

NA Patriot said...

"Pure spin"? Surely you can't be serious. The post-secondary system in Ontario is funded by governments and student tuition. I'm not sure if you noticed but our government is in serious financial trouble and students are surely not inviting higher tuition payments in light of the inability of their parents to keep a job, or them to find one either during university or after. How is it that we can afford all this? Where will the money come from? These are the nuances that students understand and if you take every penny of raise away from the university administration it would make virtually no dent in the growing deficit it is running. And there is no doubt that funding cuts are coming from future governments. I am guessing that students understand that it might be irresponsible to give such a large pay raise to such a huge cost centre of the university, especially now.

I'm not against what CUPE is trying to accomplish. Of course they should bargain hard. But at that same time, some intellectual honesty, especially from the intellects, feels like a reasonable expectation. To suggest that this is simply the doings of a cheap or reckless or selfish admin is probably not going to fly with students or the public.

ADHR said...

I'm completely serious. Look, you're taking the claim at face value, and that's a bad idea. It's a strategic claim, not a purely descriptive one. If there weren't an economic issue with the province generally, then the admin would have something else that they'd pull out to show how TAs and contract faculty should be happy with whatever sop they're being offered. The admin is not serious when they bring up the potential for recession and deficit and so on -- if that weren't on the table, something else would be.

I've been through this negotiation process four times, and it's always the same. It's not that the admin don't want to improve the contract. It's that they can't, because there's some horrible systemic problem which is binding their hands.

That said, I find it interesting that there is little to no comment available suggesting that there should be broad-based paycuts to the upper-level administration. That money certainly wouldn't cover what 3903 is asking for. But it would indicate that the admin is actually making a descriptive claim here, and not trying to "win". Look at Trent for an example: there, administrative positions are being consolidated, salaries frozen, and across the board cuts being made (every department has been mandated to cut its budget by double-digits -- I believe it's 15%, but I'm not sure off the top of my head).

So, I doubt their seriousness because, one, they'd say anything to try to "beat" the union; and, two, other actions they're taking show that they don't consider the "problem" all that extreme.

(Not to mention that if you have a choice as to where you put your money, wouldn't it make sense to put it into the people who do 50% of the teaching?)

ADHR said...

Oh, and, I should point out that York is planning 5% tuition increases for next year anyway. So, it's not as if tuition is going to jump only if 3903's contract demands are met.