I am pissed, folks. I sent this to my MPP (David Zimmer), as well as a bunch of other folks (in the CC line). I will be mailing a hard copy to all noted as well.
Dear Mr. Zimmer,
I am a graduate student, but neither a TA nor a member of the contract faculty, at York University. I have recently been informed of Mr. Shurman's Bill to require the Legislature to not only legislate an end to the strike by CUPE 3903, but legislate a three-year contract. I urge you as my representative in the Provincial Parliament to vote against this bill as an unreasonable and unjust use of legislative power.
In my view, this Bill, if passed, would represent an irresponsible interference by the Legislature in the negotiation process between the University and the Union. While the negotiations have been difficult and many students, undergraduate and graduate alike, have been adversely affected, for the Legislature to intervene and force a contract on the striking workers would do nothing to resolve the outstanding issues between the two parties. Graduate funding at York would still be inadequate and would become more inadequate as more graduate students are enrolled. Contract faculty would still be underpaid and treated as disposable labour. The tensions between the two sides would still exist. And, in three years, the process would repeat again, with greater militancy on both sides. It is clear to those who do not see this strike as a chance to force an ideological agenda that a forced agreement is no path to labour peace at York U.
Furthermore, if the Ontario Legislature passed this Bill, then the Legislature would be in clear violation of a reasonable understanding of the rights to peaceful assembly and association spelled out in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as Canada's international commitments to human rights. As noted by Associate Professor David Doorey of the York Faculty of Law (http://www.yorku.ca/ddoorey/lawblog/?p=308):
"'Back to work' legislation is controversial because it is a violation of Canada's obligations under the International Labour Organization's Convention 87, which Canada has ratified. Therefore, if the Liberal government orders the York employees back to work, it will likely also then face a ILO complaint, and a rebuke by the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association. ... it is an embarrassment for Canada that it's [sic] governments keep violating international human rights laws by limiting the right to strike through back to work legislation. ... It undermines Canada’s ability to speak with credibility to other countries about the need to respect human rights."
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23) also clearly states that all workers have a right to just and favourable conditions of work and to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. None of these rights, recognized in Canadian and international law, would be served by a Bill which compels members of a trade union to accept contract terms that they have already overwhelmingly rejected.
Once again, I urge you, as my representative in the Provincial Parliament, to vote against this Bill and to ensure it is defeated in the House. It is not the right of government to force citizens to accept a labour contract that they do not want to accept. If the Legislature is serious about attempting to use its power to resolve the York University strike, I am sure there are more productive methods, consistent with basic principles of justice.
CC: Peter Fonseca, Minister of Labour
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
Elizabeth Witmer, Opposition House Leader
Robert Bailey, Labour Critic (PC)
Jim Wilson, Training, Colleges and Universities Critic (PC)
Peter Kormos, Labour Critic (NDP) and Third Party House Leader
Rosario Marchese, Training, Colleges and Universities Critic (NDP)
Peter Tabuns, Greater Toronto Area Issues Critic (NDP)